Advancing the consumer journey in foodservice unattended retail

June 23, 2023
In this NAMA session, panelists talked about key consumer trends that are driving away-from-home eating and snacking and shared ideas on how operators can take steps to create the necessary experience to attract and retain micro market customers.

In this NAMA education session, “Advancing the Consumer Journey in Foodservice Unattended Retail,” panelists talked about key consumer trends that are driving away-from-home eating and snacking. The panelists – Bill Moxey with PepsiCo, Rose Coté with InReach, and Ryan McWhirter with 365 Retail Markets – shared ideas, often driven by data, on how operators can take steps to create the experience that is necessary to attract and retain micro market customers.

This article is part of a series from Automatic Merchandiser and that recaps some of the sessions from the 2023 NAMA Show. Check out Automatic Merchandiser’s Vending & OCS Nation podcast, hosted by Bob Tullio, for more comments on the education sessions.

PepsiCo study

Bill Moxey, director of strategy and planning at PepsiCo, told the audience that PepsiCo did an extensive survey asking consumers what they were looking for in the away-from-home food and beverage experience. Last year, this same session asked the question, why do consumers use unattended retail? The answers were control – that they could have control over the transaction and convenience. Those two factors are still important with consumers today, and they are a driving reason why unattended retail is growing, Moxey said.

The PepsiCo study identified three important issues for unattended retail consumers – time, value and trust.


Oversaturation – trying to accomplish too much – has cut into the amount of time consumers spend both eating and sleeping.

Moxey said that 70% of consumers want to have a more seamless, instant and convenient experience when they are shopping in the food and beverage space. One big trend: They are shopping with their phones in their hand. They are shopping while they shop – ordering from Amazon while they are checking out at a micro market.

Ryan McWhirter, VP of product management, 365 Retail Markets, said his company’s core principle is to make using its equipment fast, easy and intuitive for end users – to not have to “figure it out.” He added that a phone and a kiosk are often seen as competitive, but 365 Retail Markets finds that they are perfectly compatible for checking out at a micro market, noting that it’s no longer just one solution per breakroom, but a variety of solutions can be used to meet customer needs. 


“Consumers need to have a level of trust when they shop,” said Moxey. He pointed to several aspects relating to trust, noting that 80% of consumers are looking for a higher level of safety and privacy, all of the things that tie into a dining experience.” He pointed to some examples of consumer trust.

  • Nutritional labels
  • Contactless payment
  • Mobile payments

McWhirter talked about three trust related areas pertaining to micro markets.

  • Consumers love that they can touch the product in a micro market, so that’s an immediate trust builder with micro markets.
  • Consistency of experience, when they go from the big kiosk to the small kiosk to the mobile app. Having the same successful result builds trust.
  • Clarity relating to a payment record is important, so the consumer understands what the transaction from a micro market will look like on their credit card statement.

Rose Coté, VP of sales at InReach, said trust comes up as an issue, especially when it comes to loss prevention and credit card usage.

  • Employers want to trust their employees, and cameras, especially AI cameras, can enhance the level of trust or can ease employer concerns about trust.
  • Employees get concerned about storing their credit card on the app, so it is important to show the customers safety-oriented solutions and options when using a credit card at a kiosk.


According to the PepsiCo study, value is a bit complex and is top of mind for most end users. Consumers eat to satisfy a functional or an emotional need. They are willing to pay more for a product they know and trust. “Consumers generally believe that a digital experience has value because they trust the technology. Bringing consumers a consistent experience really brings it all together for shoppers,” said Moxey.

At the end of the presentation, the panelists were asked the question, What do operators need to do to thrive today in unattended retail?

Moxey said operators need to focus on category management. Make sure to ask all the right questions first, what do they want and what do they need? Put the right products in your planograms. He added that it is also important to make shopping easy for consumers by having the right technology in the right locations.

McWhirter said that pre-kitting is important, proper pricing is critical and that means price increases when they are needed.


Bob Tullio is a content specialist, speaker, sales trainer, consultant and contributing editor of Automatic Merchandiser/ He advises entrepreneurs on how to build a successful business from the ground up and specializes in helping suppliers connect with operators in the convenience services industry – coffee service, vending, micro markets and pantry service specifically. 

Subscribe to Automatic Merchandiser's new podcast, Vending & OCS Nation, hosted by Tullio and designed to make your business more profitable.

Also check out Tullio’s b2b Perspective Channel, which has developed a loyal YouTube following.

Tullio delivers this promise to any company that hires him for a 30-minute or 1-hour Zoom call: "One short session with me will elevate the performance of your sales team.”


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