How do micro markets fit into the healthy vending industry?

April 6, 2015

While most healthy vending companies began with vending machines, many are branching out to micro markets, a natural extension according to the franchisees.
Julie Guirguis, owner of Treat Yourself to Health, LLC, a H.U.M.A.N. franchise in Sarasota, FL, only offers micro markets. She saw the H.U.M.A.N. name in Entrepreneur magazine and decided to check out the idea, however, she quickly discovered vending machines required frequent restocking and mechanical maintenance skills. “I realized it wasn’t for me,” said Guirguis. However, when the concept of a micro market was described, Guirguis saw the potential. She has placed three micro markets since June 2014, all with products approved by H.U.M.A.N. She also partners with local food providers for fresh food. “I sell things from my local caterer, like salads, wraps, protein boxes and soups,” said Guirguis.

Guirguis isn’t blind to the importance of the right location for these markets. “Either the company and employees want it or they don’t,” she said. If people aren’t dedicated to eating healthier products, they won’t buy them. However, Guirguis also believes there is a lack of education about what healthy products can taste like. “There’s a learning curve to healthy vending,” she said.

A background in finance helped Guirguis assess the business and understand the need for support from the franchise. “I feel like I’m my own boss, but I’m not alone. I have the support of the staff of H.U.M.A.N.” She also knows that any new business takes a lot of work and attention to detail. “You can’t just join a franchise and have someone do it all for you,” she said. “Only you can make your business successful.”

Healthy micro markets offered to the industry

Can traditional vending and healthy mix? Maybe with a micro market. A two-man team in Los Angeles, CA, saw micro markets as a huge opportunity for both. Ben Thomas and Michael Johnson, friends since college and co-founders of Delicious Nutritious Markets, were at the gym and couldn’t find a healthy snack. A light bulb went off. They made it their mission to get healthy food into the hands of the people and the partners see the vending industry and micro markets as the perfect way to do that. “We opened our first micro market in June to prove the concept,” said Thomas.

“Our business model is to help vending operators grow their business through healthy micro markets, bridging the gap between what they currently offer and what consumers are begging for — healthy food,” said Johnson.

Instead of a kiosk, the partners developed a self-checkout payment platform called Payz, which uses the consumer’s smartphone device or a wall-mounted iPad to accept payment. “We made our software agnostic,” said Thomas, “allowing Payz to communicate with any open API inventory management or VMS.” On top of that, Delicious Nutritious Markets offers their own Cloud-based inventory management solution, providing real-time access to inventory levels, sales data and analytics. “Healthy food is exploding. It’s what consumers want and they are willing to pay a premium for it,” said Johnson.

Fresh Healthy Vending is also looking to partner with traditional operators. Nick Yates, chairman of FHV, indicated that the company will be at the NAMA OneShow in April previewing its proprietary micro market concept which has a modular build and proprietary technology. This will be a way for operators to purchase product from the company, a request Yates says he gets regularly, and be a one-stop shop for installing a plug-and-play micro market option.