Unfortunate Feeding Of Negative Vending Perceptions

Oct. 13, 2016

Play a game with me. Imagine you are in a social setting. You explain what you do for a living. Now tell me how quickly that person launches into their latest experience with a vending machine. As you might be guessing, this happens a fair amount to me. And whenever I am faced with the tales of really poor vending service, the kind we always accuse competitors of doing, I wonder to myself about the size of the location, is it large, or more likely, small. Because, my perception is that, if the location were important to the vendor, bringing in top revenue from a large number of employees, it would not be serviced in such a poor way. I am referring to machines with consistently empty spirals, credit card readers working intermittently, exact change mode going once a week or more, product regularly getting stuck in the coils, strange choices no one buys, etc. 

We’ve all heard the horror stories. And we all strive to provide the best customer service in our own businesses. But let’s be honest. The nature of business is that customers that spend the most get a bit more of the fair and equal customer service. Unfortunately, I believe this is keeping our industry down. This lack of truly reliable, dependable and frankly relevant vending continues to give people a bad impression of vending in general, an impression they carry with them to new jobs and new vending locations outside of work. 

The long game 

The small location will likely never get the attention or resources they would hope. You get what you pay for, after all. Money talks. And a number of other sayings. However, I do think the industry could do with more operators really making an effort to maximize the service they offer to smaller locations. Vending management systems allow more efficient location specific product sales data - helping to tailor a product mix that will actually sell at the location while eliminating empty spirals and maintaining a low service frequency. Keeping equipment in good working order should go without saying, because unreliable cashless or bill acceptors don’t improve sales. Instead, both occasions drive people to the convenience store or drug store down the street. In that establishment, these issues rarely happen and certainly not because the person doing the purchasing works for a small or large location. Consumers aren’t classified in that way in other retail channels. So in vending, the question you need to ask yourself is how current service levels are impacting the consumer, AKA the end user. These are the people carrying around a perception of vending drawn from their workplace breakroom.  

Like most elements of business (and life) it must be a balance. Large customers get better discounts and more attention, but you should keep a strict minimum of quality service for even smaller locations. Meet it with the best of vending technology, data analysis and equipment. We already have an incredible opportunity with the Millennials in the workforce who prefer interacting with machines, let’s not waste it, or prove them wrong at their first job.