Time To Reshape Our Thinking

Oct. 12, 2015
To benefit from micro markets, operators need to treat them like retail.

On this page there are two photos. One is a micro market and one is a convenience store. Can you tell the difference?

This similarity between the two illustrates a point brought up in many articles and presentations about micro markets — that they are retail establishments that need to be treated differently than vending banks, from the way items are faced on shelves to what products are offered.

Operators launch vending minus the door

One of the most detrimental practices for vending operators launching micro markets is treating them as though they are simply grand vending machines without a door. I’ve seen markets where the product layout mimics a vending machine (chips near the top, candy in the middle, gum near the bottom). Fresh food is scarce (mostly nonexistent) and the food does not mirror changing consumer trends, as it should. Products are stocked without the attention to detail that is common in merchandising a convenience store and this is a problem because micro markets can attract a broader array of customers.

We all know certain types of consumers will buy from vending machines, and others will not. The same isn’t true for micro markets. From the fresh food selections in deli-style containers to additional products in popular sizes and varieties once restricted from the vending channel — more consumers are drawn to the breakroom. This is great news for micro market operators. This is the main reason revenues increase when a vending bank is converted successfully into a micro market.

Don’t overlook the ability to price it right

The increased number of SKUs and often different products available in the micro markets also allow the operator to raise the prices of items. This can improve margins and cover the additional cost of cashless transactions, theft and spoilage — all concerns of operators looking at the micro market cost analysis. While some traditional vending customers are sure to question the price hike, most will see that the convenience and variety in the micro market more than makes up for the higher price tags. For the minority who see it as a problem, educate them about the new and trendy selections that were not available in the vending machine. Explain about the better quality products compared to vending during the grand opening – that’s a great time to not only sign up customers, but stir up excitement about the new system and point out all the new SKUs. This is also the reasoning behind eliminating commissions.

Micro markets are reshaping the industry because many operators have already begun redefining themselves and the business they are in. They know that if you give customers a reason to expect more, then they will pay more. Don’t short change this great opportunity to drive up revenues and raise the status of the important service the industry provides.