How to gain a competitive advantage in micro markets

Sept. 23, 2022
In Automatic Merchandiser's webinar, "Micro Markets: Gaining a Competitive Advantage," sponsors and panelists discuss how to gain a competitive advantage in micro markets.

In Automatic Merchandiser's webinar, Micro Markets: Gaining a Competitive Advantage sponsored by Fixturelite, Cantaloupe, Minus Forty (Due North) and Nayax, and now available for on-demand viewing, sponsors and panelists discuss how to gain a competitive advantage in micro markets.

And, Steve Orlando, co-founder of Fixturelite, the industry’s leading supplier of micro market retail displays, equipment and design tools, shares how Fixturelite’s unique approach can benefit operators.

This article also features key comments from the other sponsors and the two operator panelists. Some quotes have been slightly modified for easier reading.

Steve Orlando on how Fixturelite’s unique approach can benefit operators

We talk about being the industry leader because our approach is different. We're a company that creates partnerships with our clients, built on the motto, "For operators, by operators.” What does that mean? We have been in your shoes. We operated our own vending, OCS and micro market business for 10 years. We took that experience, combined it with retail methodologies and best practices, to create our own solutions.

Impactful aspects of the process

We uniquely design, define and furnish unattended retail environments in a way that is both visually integrated and positively impactful to the customer experience. Three of the most impactful aspects of the process are 3D visualization design tools, store design with a focus on the customer experience and the partnerships that we create with our customers.

The advantage of Fixturelite’s Design Tools

You see it in custom real estate. You see it in a lot of places where you need to create that experience and that journey for that customer before it ever exists. The process is immersive, it's collaborative, and it strengthens the partnership and improves their experience in working with you, while you show up as an expert in your field.

About displays and retail merchandising

The environments that we create play a much larger role in the consumer experience than most operators might think. Any old rack or shelving won’t do. Buildings, offices and property owners are investing in their space to draw the employee back into the workplace. Merchandising properly and creating an experience to which the customers positively respond is crucial.

Regarding product placement

Product placement is top of mind for successful retailers, and I say retailers because this is retail business, a hospitality business, at least that's what it's become. Retailers know the secret of placement. It's to bring the products to life within the design that's targeted to and for the customer. Having a retail display system from Fixturelite that has these features already designed into it allows operators to focus on other journeys within that customer experience. Operators create more loyal customers because they want to be there, they want to shop there, and it drives revenues higher.

Customer experience is crucial

A positive experience leads to loyalty, increased revenues, faster ROI on the investment that you put into the location, versus doing the bare minimum. Customer experience is the number-one differentiator used by customers to make a choice between A and B today.

First choice, not last resort

Yesterday morning, when I was at breakfast, I realized there were 25 places, pretty much within walking distance where I could go for breakfast. When a customer has a great experience, they become more loyal to the space you create for them. It's their first choice versus their last resort.

The spotlight must be on the customer. So often, we see locations focusing on what was easiest or cheapest for themselves versus what benefited the customer the most. It's got to be what's good for the customer. Of course, there must be a win-win scenario, the operator must profit.

The reward for what we do

Customers resonate with Fixturelite because we create destinations, places where you want to hang out, places where you want to go. Our ultimate goal is to focus on our customer's needs, whether it's sustainability, repeatability, branding or design. Partnering with Fixturelite takes work off our customer's plates, allowing them to focus on their business. Fixturelite's legacy is quality and expertise. Seeing spaces come to life after we have created them and the smiles on the faces of the people that will be using them every day is really part of the reward for what we do.

SPONSOR - Randy Skyba, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Due North

When a micro market operator makes that selection of what refrigeration equipment to use, really, do you want to be in the food business or do you want to be managing coolers and freezers that are having technical issues? Clearly the message better be that you want to be in the food business. We make it possible with a lower rate of repairs, better cooling performance, and industry-leading customer service.

Ideally, when a client walks into a micro market, it should look more like a convenience store. It has that nice flow, it's very welcoming, curved edges on the sign holders and the grills, bright LED lighting inside the coolers to illuminate the product. I think customers want to see an environment that looks professional, clean and welcoming, and that's where customers will want to spend money.

SPONSOR - Michael Johnson, Vice President, GM of Micro Markets, Cantaloupe Inc.

Cantaloupe is a digital payments and software services company and the leader in end-to-end solutions for unattended retail. We really consider ourselves a full-service technology partner for companies looking to expand their reach within self-service.

Literally, everything we do is designed to provide a better experience for both operators and then the end users that they service. This is accomplished with a combination of the consumer facing applications and the backend software that operators use to run their business.

SPONSOR - Pete Carmain, Vice President of National Accounts, Nayax

I think operators are always going to benefit when the customer experience is positive. As an end user, first and foremost, I want to be able to pay the way I want to pay. I want to be able to use my preferred method.

Nayax is very much in tune with payment methods, and we currently offer over 30 types. Mobile is a big part of what we do here. If I put on my operator hat, our market is an out-of-box solution. You've got your kiosk, your printer, your scanner, your VPOS Touch built into it. You can pull it out of the box, and you can be up and running in a matter of minutes.

PANELIST - Louis Baresh, Sales Manager, Executive Refreshments

Things have changed since COVID. Fresh and healthy foods are huge. Some 700 to 1,000-person offices don't want to bring back that cafeteria service, so offering them high-quality food items really works.

Micro market design is important right now. We need to create a community feeling that will help bring employees back into the office or warehouse. Employers want them to feel like they're going to work in spaces that, for example, model large tech firms, and during that short walk into the breakroom, we can make that happen.

PANELIST - Jennifer Fox, President, Fox Vending

Theft is the number-one issue that, obviously, everyone is concerned about. Ten years ago, I don't think the customer really worried as much about it or cared as much about it, but what I'm finding today, because of our experience, we're able to talk more intelligently about the realities of what to expect.
I used to sugarcoat it like theft isn't that much of an issue. Don't worry about it. Now, the reality is we're really looping our customers in to have more responsibility and accept more ownership for theft.

A simple solution for operators seeking a competitive advantage. Learn more at


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