Reflections From NAMA OneShow 2017

May 4, 2017

As a newcomer to Automatic Merchandiser magazine and, I was especially looking forward to attending this year's NAMA OneShow in Las Vegas. Over the past couple of months, I have had the opportunity to immerse myself in the daily news, trends and developments of the industry, but meeting key players and seeing what's new in person proved to be my most rewarding experience thus far.  

Here are my top three takeaways and revelations from walking the show floor and speaking with exhibitors: 

Technology is key for innovation. 

As I spoke with numerous attendees and exhibitors, the general consensus seemed to be that industry-wide reluctance to experiment with technology was common just several years. While a few daring operators chose to implement new solutions, this was not a common strategy among the majority. However, recent trends have shown quite the opposite sentiment.  

I visited Vagabond's COO Juan Jorquera and spoke with him about his company's launch of vīv, a new mobile app that allows consumers to walk up to any vending machine, scroll through a menu of products, review product details, and make a purchase using whatever form of payment they want. I was especially intrigued by how the product is delivered without the consumer ever touching the machine. Definitely not your average vending machine.  

While visiting the Crane Merchandising Systems booth, I previewed its new user experience, MEDIA2. Scheduled to launch later this year, the intuitive interface is designed to influence consumer behavior with suggestive selling through a patent-pending recommendation engine. Operators can highlight specific products by placing them into the “Featured Products” category, enabling the operator to specify products or let MEDIA2 make the suggestion through different algorithms. In addition to new products, the suggestive selling feature can be used for low movers, complementary products or just random selections.  

Healthy snacking continues to grow. 

It's no secret that healthy snacking is on the rise among Americans, so it made a lot of sense that healthy products and discussion had a significant presence on this year's OneShow. I sat in on NAMA's breakout session Nutrition: Trends at the Federal, State and Local Levels and How They Impact Your Bottom Line. U.S. Centers For Disease Control (CDC) Nutrition Scientist Joel E. Kimmons, Ph.D., NAMA Senior Director and Counsel of Government Affairs Sandy Larson, and NAMA Regional Legislative Director Sheree Edwards spoke on the regulatory efforts being proposed and implemented at every level of government. Kimmons specifically addressed the efforts related to nutrition trends in the federal government that impact the convenience services industry. He went over the CDC's 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines designed to help Americans eat a healthier diet, which are intended for policymakers and health professionals, and discussed at length five overarching guidelines and a number of key recommendations with specific nutritional targets and dietary limits. He then emphasized how operators can use these guidelines to identify healthier snack and beverage options to offer in their vending and micro market settings.  

After attending this session, it was clear to me that this growing healthy demand provides an array of new sales opportunities for operators and I look forward to seeing how this continues to pan out over the years to come.  

Advocacy is essential. 

My conversations with NAMA members also educated me on the importance the industry's commitment to government advocacy. Learning about NAMA's Fly-In events was truly inspirational and showed the passion of members to continually promote and preserve the industry. The goal of the Fly-In is to connect with congressional leaders about the convenience service industry and discuss industry members' first-hand experiences. Described repeatedly as a "must-attend event," members were already talking about the next Fly-In in Washington, D.C., coming up in July.


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National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA)

May 7, 2009
Executive Staff Carla Balakgie, FASAE, CAE, President & CEO Dan Mathews, NCE5, CCS, Executive Vice President & COO Bill Meierling, Senior Vice President, External Affairs...