Technology Trends In 2015

Dec. 16, 2015
Technology providers continue to push vending forward, helping operators run more efficient businesses and engage with consumers.

Technology is a small word for such a large range of topics. For instance, it is used to describe everything from enhanced promotional capabilities of micro markets, vending management systems, digital marketing and cashless payment options. This year we have seen technology adoption increase even more sharply in the vending industry than in the past with new/expanded partnerships, equipment launches and slow but consistent integration. Here is a look back at some top technology-focused news items that came out in 2015. So far, 2016 is looking just as innovative and exciting.

Micro markets go big with mobile push

In January, big news broke about two industry companies – the purchase of BYNDL by Avanti Markets. Jim Brinton, CEO of micro market supplier Avanti Markets, told that consumers wanted to use more mobile payments. He believed the merger would help make that a reality while also developing the tools to promote loyalty. Sure enough, this fall the Avanti Markets App, Powered by BYNDL was released and does both.

In April, we looked at trends reflected at the NAMA OneShow in Las Vegas, NV. Among new products to sample was an influx of technology innovations, including more mobile payment and promotions options available for vending machines. It’s not just customer facing technologies that have been steadily increasing all year, but the use of systems to enhance product offerings and delivery schedules, too. Vending management systems (VMS) are no longer ‘nice-to-haves’, but instead have become ‘need-to-haves.’ The ability to both visit a machine only when necessary and prekit products for the route driver, are allowing tremendous growth and unparalleled control over the business by the operator.

Technology integrations have also been happening at a greater pace, which makes transitions more seamless and saves time transferring data and looking at metrics in two different systems. In early December LightSpeed announced a new integration with Vagabond; an integration which should be available to those customers in early 2016. It’s one more positive step in the right direction for vending.

Vending equipment gets a boost

While there has been much talk about micro markets and office coffee service, the vending industry is still a strong core segment – it’s just evolving. This October it was reported that the Wittern Group in Clive, IA, was planning a $17.75 million expansion that includes bringing controlled dispensing solutions to industries like healthcare and maintenance repair.

The next month vending equipment was again in the spotlight when AMS announced its MicroVend, a countertop vending machine that would start production in 2016. While previewed at a few trade shows, the announcement gained a lot of industry attention for the compact vender.

Technology will continue to be a major trend in 2016. It is driving some operators to higher profits and frustrating others, but we have reached a tipping point where technology is no longer in a testing phase, but has proven its worth. Look for more of it in the year ahead.