Technology use in this industry isn’t new. Vending machines started having control boards with MDB and DEX capabilities years, even decades ago. Telemetry and cashless devices that connected vending machines to the internet came along after that with growing adoption among operators, although troubleshooting these devices continues to be a headache. See Tips For Installing And Troubleshooting Telemetry And Cashless Devices on page 24 for the best practices involved with implementing these technologies.
The winding road
Despite how long technology has been available, the transition of vending machine from mechanical to technological has truly arrived. The pace of adoption is quickening. Last year, our State of the Vending Industry report showed a huge jump in the number of vending machines that accepted cashless payments and the percentage of operators who were using some form of technology to make their businesses more efficient, from telemetry to vending management systems.
This not only drives our industry forward in the eyes of our customers, but also increases the value of the overall business when it comes time to sell. It has been shown to improve margins and profitability as well as give transparency for locations. It is an evolving process that continues with the advancement in the technology and systems that support it. From what I have seen, it has also just taken a huge step forward.
Think about how vending could benefit from the interaction of computer-generated perceptional information that augments the physical world. Hard to conceptualize, isn’t it. Well, that futuristic sounding concept is exactly how Gimme describes the “Augmented Reality” feature the company teased on VendingMarketWatch.com early in 2018. It appears to be a way to use a mobile device to quickly inventory a micro market.
Gimme isn’t the only one looking for ways to augment reality for the industry. Wissan Mobility has been working with operators on perfecting its routeSight® which uses a type of wearable tech or smart glasses to allow route drivers to inventory a machine while filling it, along with other benefits.
These companies, and many more will be at the NAMA Show in March, a can’t miss event that you can learn more about on pages 18 and 30.
There is a lot riding on technology today. It’s use, and adoption allow operators to succeed in an ever-changing consumer environment. It’s part of the reason our success story, Canteen of Coastal California and Jerry Scott, has stayed a strong contender for more than 40 years, on page 34.
Technology isn’t a one and done type of investment. It requires commitment and an eye towards the future. At the NAMA show, it will be a can’t miss feature that will foreshadow the next 10 years of our industry.
Correction: In the December/January issue of Automatic Merchandiser magazine, the photo of Chuck Treister, consultant and founder of U.S. Vending Management was mislabeled as Tom Nesser. Treister was pictured on page 22 with his biography on page 24. Also, the BBI team should have been listed as a 2017 Pro To Know Team. See their story on page 10.