Vending.com - Vending technology is transforming the food industry

Vending technology is transforming the food industry

Introduction

Vending machines have been serving food products to consumers for more than a century. Today, more than $30 billion worth of food and beverages are bought from vending machines all over the country each year. They form an integral part of the food supply chain.

Like all electrical and electronic equipment, vending machines are embracing the growth of technology. Cloud computing, the Internet of Things, Electronic Payment Interfaces, and Graphical Human-Machine Interfaces are some examples of the latest technology used in modern vending machines. Such pieces of technology have created new possibilities in unmanned food retail. They have improved efficiencies, reduced waste, enhanced accountability and delivered novel experiences for the end-user. Let us explore how technology in vending is revolutionizing the food industry.

Vending in the Food Industry

Thomas Adams installed machines selling sugar-coated chewing gum balls in New York in the late 19th century. Vending machines have since played a significant role in the food industry. Today they sell everything from packaged potato chips to freshly cooked pizza. Disregarding a few fringe variants, the majority of food products that flow through the vending channel are of four broad types:

Snacks and Beverages – This is the largest contributor to the share of food products sold through vending machines in the United States. It includes cold beverages (23%), packaged snacks (15.5%), and candy & confectionery (18.3%). This amounts to about $17.6 billion in annual sales in the U.S. They are mostly convenience sales and impulse purchases.

Frozen Food & Cold Storage Products – This category is the second-largest by sales. It consists of ice cream (1.9%), frozen food (5.3%), and Healthy & Fresh Food (8.2%). Such products usually have a short shelf life. Hence the vending machines selling them are limited to specific areas like grocery stores, micro-markets or other sites where consumers come to buy food supplies. Together, they contribute to about $4.9 billion in annual sales in the U.S.

Hot Beverages – The hot beverage vending took a tremendous beating during the COVID-19 pandemic and the following lockdown measures of several state governments. But since 2021, the industry has been bouncing back hard. Today, hot beverage vending machines contribute to approximately 3.8% of total sales, equaling about $1.2 billion annually.

Others – All other categories have been grouped into this category. This includes fresh pizzas, hot food, soup, ready meat, and french fries. This segment contributes to $4.2 billion in annual sales in the U.S. Some reports claim that this is the fastest-growing of all categories of food sold through vending machines.

Benefits of Vending Technology for the Food Industry

There are several participants in the food industry. Some of them are a part of the food products’ value stream. They participate in the production, logistics and consumption of food. This includes the business that produces and packages food, catering or food services providers, wholesalers and retailers. When vending machines are involved in the process, there are more participants. They are vending machine operators, owners of locations where the vending machines are placed and sources of food products.

Economic Value Added for all Stakeholders: The sale of food products through vending machines creates revenue for vending machine operators and location owners. Considering that a massive part of the sales on vending machines are discretionary and impulse purchases, they increase the total sales volume in the food industry. This helps all the participants in this industry grow their revenue.

Vending in Food Security: It is estimated that about 3.1 million Americans suffer from acute food insecurity. A big part of it is because of food deserts. This is a crisis driven by the lack of accessibility to food where it is required. Vending machines can become satellite stores for store owners, which can be replenished regularly. This helps extend the range of service of the grocery or departmental stores without having to incur expensive capital. The latest vending machines have onboard or cloud-enabled inventory management software. This helps the store owners to track consumption and replace the stock in these remotely installed machines without having to visit them for frequent inspection. When all impediments are removed, store owners are motivated to install more vending machines that give access to processed and fresh food. This can help improve food security by providing convenient access to essential nutrition anywhere and anytime.

Vending for Sustainability: As discussed earlier, vending machines with inventory management help track food consumption. Owners can now stock the right amount of food in their machines by monitoring stock levels. This minimizes food waste.

Moreover, new-age machines use energy-efficient cooling systems like R290-based refrigeration units. They are easier to deploy than replacing large cooling units of big stores or markets. This makes vending machines an energy-efficient supplement to stores wherever possible.

Dealing with catastrophic disruptions: If there is anything that the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us in 2020 and 2021, we depend on a fragile supply chain for our daily needs. The world is still reeling from its after-effects. Vending machines can help address the last-mile supply chain issues by providing contactless access to essential food supplies. Some machines have inherent UV-based irradiation to sanitize machine interfaces and supplies.

Emerging Technology in Food Vending

Recent advances in electronics, software and computing have revolutionized the vending industry. The benefits of this technological progress have had a positive impact on the food industry. Some of them are discussed below.

Contamination Prevention: UV sanitization has helped vending machines not only sanitize the touchpoints where consumers interact with them. They now can sanitize the merchandise they sell. UVend Technology makes high-touch machine surfaces safer by destroying or inactivating some of the most common viruses, bacteria, and highly beneficial during COVID-19.

Hot Food Vending: Energy-efficient heating systems combined with precision robotics have helped turn vending machines into kitchens. This is expected to widen the range of products and services offered through vending machines.

Sustainability & Eco-Friendliness: Modern cooling systems, prevention of waste using inventory management platforms and other environmentally responsible features make vending machines a compelling retail channel in the food industry.

Conclusion:

The food industry has been one of the earliest beneficiaries of vending technology. All stakeholders in the food industry benefit from the use of vending machines as a channel for last-mile retail. The recent developments in technology have only enhanced the benefits of vending machines.

Vending.com has been a part of the vending industry for over 90 years. Strong investments in research and development on cutting-edge technology have helped Vending.com set the pace for innovations in the vending industry. If you are looking to set up a vending business or grow your current vending business, talk to us at 1-855-929-1042 or visit our website.

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Ways customer service influences your vending business

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” 

– Maya Angelou – Poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist

Certain sayings have a great deal of wisdom hidden in them that resonates with us. What makes them great is how they remain true across time. We all must have heard the above Maya Angelou quote in some variation or another, and this holds for customer satisfaction, which in turn drives sales success.

Customer Satisfaction = Customer Service + Customer Experience

A particular study by Oracle® found that 86% of the surveyed consumers were willing to pay more for better customer service. The link between customer satisfaction and sales success is well-documented.

Though there are multiple definitions based on context, we could safely take the following equation as the simplest canonical form: Customer Satisfaction = Customer Service + Customer Experience. 

Customer satisfaction is a combination of aspects that are in our control, 

  • Customer service, the tangible aspects such as a well maintained and stocked machine, ensures full marks
  • Customer experience, where the intangible elements, such as aesthetics or a contactless and cashless experience, come into the picture.

At Vending.com, our machines cover both aspects. 

Quality of Customer Service

Customer service is key to gaining repeat customers and growing your business.

Stock availability

More product selections translate to more sales. Our combo vending machines, for instance, vends multiple product types and has a flexible and high storage capacity.

Ease of Use 

The customer does not like coin jams, bills returned, glitchy interfaces, or faulty buttons. The customer depends on the vending equipment to save them time while servicing their needs.

Safety

Vending equipment is a substantial piece of machinery. As rugged and handsome as they are, they still need to be grounded, balanced, and suitably located to stave off any possibility of injury. In today’s environment, sanitization of high contact surfaces are also non-negotiable. Check out our UVend Technology that provides a safer vending experience for customers.

Quality of Customer Experience

Customers are the cornerstone of your success. Focusing on the below areas will help in maintaining and optimizing the quality of their interaction with your vending business.

  • Ease of accessing information: We are living in a mobile-first consumer environment. Your customers are used to responsive touchscreens with strategically located useful information. They expect no less from their food, snack, or drink vending machines.
  • Technology
  • Cashless: Again, the focus is on a seamless interaction. One where mobile and card-based payment systems increase convenience for the customer. Our offerings are equipped with the latest payment acceptance systems. Additionally, in some cases, these offerings can be retrofitted. We recommend contacting your sales representative for more information.
  • Contactless: Unattended retail is growing. With this, our machines are equipped to make the entire user-machine interaction contactless, from product selection to payment to delivery. We ensure a no-touch experience to the end-users. 
  • Aesthetics – The Where, How, and Wow of Product Placement
  • Planogram: Out of sight, out of mind. We do not want visibility to affect your sales. Our in-house experts help you plan the positioning of your best-sellers. This ensures customers do not turn to another machine just because they could not spot the snack they wanted.
  • Lighting: Visibility is one thing. Viewability is another. Vending.com machines have strategically placed LED bulbs that enhance merchandise viewability.
  • Design: The where and how of product placement is covered, and now we come to the ‘wow.’ Depending on the audience targeted, a good design helps you get extra sales. Vending.com helps you convert your branding goals or your marketing ideas into visual graphic wraps
  • Alignment with/cognisance of customer philosophy
  • Accessibility: Patrons will range from children or elderly or the differently-abled. As such, our machines are all ADA compliant or ADA ready.
  • Sustainability: Consumers are now more aware than ever of the environmental impact of their purchase decisions. Vending.com has always been at the forefront of creating or in the early adoption of energy-efficient practices. Our machines are ENERGY STAR® certified. We constantly innovate through engineering and sourcing to keep the toll on our environment to a bare minimum.

We have ensured client success throughout our decades (90 years) of experience in delivering automatic merchandising equipment by helping our clients provide great end-user service and constantly optimize the end-user experience. We deliver thanks to our consistent focus on innovation and dedicated and exhaustive service, maintenance, and repair.

Making Vending Machines Your Best Salesperson

With a vending machine, there is an opportunity to provide standardized customer service and a quality customer experience to ensure more repeat sales and increased customer loyalty.

At Vending.com, we focus on making our machines a delight to use. We incorporate customer feedback and industry trends into our R&D. Connect with us to know more about the features and machines that will drive more vending sales for your business at 1-855-929-1042.

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Be Mindful of these Pitfalls When Purchasing A Used Vending Machine

The Vending Machine Business

Did you know that as of 2022, the US has roughly 5 million vending machines? According to the industry market research firm IBIS World, the vending machine industry generates close to $8.9 billion in annual revenue. About 67% of this market comprises small independent operators selling snacks and beverages and making small margins. For most vending machine owners, it is primarily a side hustle.

Vending is a booming business, and starting one is not very difficult. The vending business is a constantly changing and evolving industry. It provides an excellent opportunity for all kinds of entrepreneurs, whether you are a novice or a seasoned business owner. The range of products that can be offered to your customers is vast. The most common and popular items being sold are snacks, candy, and beverages like soda, water, and coffee.

Used vending machines generate profits quickly with a low initial cost

If you are new to the vending business and would like to try your hand at it, then an easy way to start your own vending business is to buy used vending machines. A used vending machine will typically cost a fraction of its brand-new unit. You may also chance upon a used vending machine that has barely been used.

While experimenting with new locations, a used vending machine can be a good choice. If you are operating with limited resources, used vending machines may be the way to go. Many such use cases get you started on a used machine and earn the capital required to invest in a brand-new device.

There are many kinds of used vending machines available in the market today. They sell a variety of merchandise, from sodas or general snacks in malls to travel electronics like headphones or phone chargers in airports. You can also buy COVID-19 essentials like masks and sanitizers from vending machines in hospitals and public spaces like malls or theaters. Picking the right product and pricing it right will help recover the capital invested in buying your used machine.

Important aspects to consider before purchase

A used vending machine might seem like a cost-effective choice to jumpstart or expand your vending business. There are a few important things, however,  to consider before buying one.

There are business pros and cons when investing in a used vending machine. The right price, the suitable model, long-term reliability, value over investment, etc., form the cons. Vending.com ensures that these cons are handled and converts them to advantages.

  • Warranty –
    • Con  – Used vending machines come with no warranty, unlike new ones. 
    • Pro – Vending.com “factory refurbished” and “certified used vending machines” do come with a great price and limited warranty
  • Financing- 
    • Con – purchasing a used machine most likely will be a cash-only transaction, or you may have to take out a loan. 
    • Pro -Vending.com has a few attractive financing options that have been designed for entrepreneurs and their cashflows in mind.
  • Number of Features
    • Con – Used vending machines are generally older models. Legacy units will not have the latest features and technology like contactless transactions. They may not be equipped to accept card payments, thus limiting the number of customer transactions. 
    • Pro -Vending.com has the expertise and parts catalog to address this.
  • Hidden expenses –
    • Con – Used machines may work perfectly fine initially, but as they near end-of-life, their mean time between failures becomes lesser and lesser. While the cost of repairs will be a factor considered, the more significant aspect would be the lost revenue from sales. 
    • Pro- Vending.com’s one-year factory warranty and Vendnet’s 90 years of vending experience ensure your machine operates with no problems. 

When purchasing a used vending machine, it’s always a good idea to inspect the vending machine in person. If Tinder taught us anything, it is that profile pictures are often overrated.

  • Seeing is believing. Check if there are any physical damages like scratches or dents. It is relatively easy to improve the external appearance of the machine. If there are heavy dents, it is better to take a closer look at the circuit boards and refrigeration systems before moving ahead with the purchase. You should ask for the machine’s original manual and schematics and whatever proof of service the seller has at hand
  • If you are buying a vending machine for dispensing cold beverages, check the compressor thoroughly. Insist on starting the machine a couple of hours before you arrive. If you have a gas leak detector, do not forget to take it along. Freon-based coolants like R232 are relatively easier to detect with their distinct smell. It is the propane-based ones that are difficult to spot without a detector. It is better to look for better options if the compressor does not inspire confidence.
  • Check the bill acceptor and coin validator. Test it to make sure it is not malfunctioning. No one wants to use a vending machine that simply eats up their money and dispenses wrong items or nothing at all. You could also retrofit a card reader or cashless payment system to the machine. If the bill acceptor or coin validator is glitchy, ask for a discount in the asking price that will help you retrofit one from Vending.com.

 

The kind of used vending machines you buy can influence the pros, cons, and ultimately the success of your vending business. Getting a quality machine will save you lots of money and time while maximizing revenue-generating transactions. Purchasing your vending machine from a reliable company can help eliminate uncertainties and risks. Vending.com has a wide range of factory-direct new and used vending machines that are manufactured in the USA. All machines have been factory inspected and remanufactured to look and operate just like new vending machines. 

When buying your vending machine from Vending.com, you can rest assured that you are in good hands. With over 90 years of experience in the vending industry, Vending.com offers a dependable business proposition to help you build your own vending business.

Vending.com offers affordable used vending machines that are factory refurbished and certified.  Call 1-855-929-1042 today for all your vending needs.

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How does a ‘Made in USA’ vending machine help your vending business

 

Made in the USA – The What and The Why?

Some suppliers sell truly American-made products, while others do not. Tthe government has ensured that Made in the USA is no longer an abstract concept. The high-level description of an “All or Virtually All” American-made product is that more than 50% of the product and its components by cost must be made in the country. Thanks to FTC guidelines [1] and federal regulations, every industry also has clear rules as to what is eligible for a Made in the USA tag and what is not.

A recent survey by a leading magazine [2] says about 69% of the respondents preferred buying American-made products. About 83% of them were also willing to pay a premium for the Made-in-America label if it is a genuine claim. This may not be surprising as we all want to reward the American spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation. The benefits of buying a product made in America, however, are not limited to patriotic fervor. There are sound business benefits to vending machine owners and operators while buying American machines or services.

What it means for your vending business

Local Customer Service: A vending machine is complex equipment that is built with a variety of electrical, mechanical, electronic, and communication equipment. Adequate customer support with cross-functional technical capabilities is essential to deliver the best user experience for the end-users of the machine. Local manufacturers understand the challenges of local customers. A good understanding of many variables like ambient weather, tastes and preferences, compliance to regulations, and other factors influence the quality of service. A business that designs and builds machines in the USA is more likely to understand the nuances of these variables and provide the best support.

International Supply Chain Woes: Manufacturers, relying on global suppliers for their components currently struggle with a severe supply chain bottleneck. This is not a temporary situation. If your machine’s card refrigerator unit fails and you must wait for a month to replace it, it means your machine is out of action. The cost of spoiled inventory in the machine is not even a scratch on the surface of what you will stand to lose as revenue. If you have purchased your machine through a financing option, you will also service the debt without revenue. On the other hand, a local manufacturer can quickly replace parts and keep the cash registers ringing.

Standards of Safety and Quality: The safety standards are a minimum benchmark for an American manufacturer who understands the consequences of a gap. However, for manufacturers in a developing nation, the standards are simply a matter of compliance to purchase specifications. Both might be working towards meeting the same safety standards, but the drive to meet such measures can be quite different. North American and Western European businesses are much more savvy than most other regions. This also gives an edge to American manufacturers compared to those who buy parts or machines from other countries to sell locally.

Faster Delivery Time: Mobilizing machines, equipment, and parts locally are faster than ordering and shipping from thousands of miles away. In a market where impulse purchases of products are short-lived fads, “time-in-transit” can be a killing. Also, the distances your machine or parts must move without any economic value can hurt the environment. A local manufacturer might still burn gas to haul your machine a few hundred miles. But it is way faster, cheaper, and environmentally responsible than shipping it on a diesel barge across the ocean.

Geopolitical Uncertainties: The last thing that a vending machine owner or operator must be worried about is the relationship between countries and world leaders. Today’s environment is so volatile that countries trade tariffs, embargos, restrictions, and retaliatory measures between each other at the drop of a hat. Suppliers who rely on foreign products or components are often impacted by the tectonics of international politics. Local manufacturers are relatively insulated from such uncertainties and become reliable partners to your vending business.

Made in the USA is not a tag. It is a proposition.

Buying American-made vending machines has a definite and positive impact on the success of your vending business. You can improve your revenues, reduce risks, ensure consumer convenience, and escape impact from extraneous factors. You can also contribute to empowering the country. You can give a boost to both your patriotism and profitability by doing business with an American manufacturer. Vending.com has been manufacturing vending machines in the USA for more than 90 years. You can talk to us to know more about the benefits of doing business with an American manufacturer like us. Call us now at 1-855-929-1042 or click here.

Vending Machines Help “World Hello Day”

Soda Vending MachineNovember 21st is World Hello Day. The goal of this holiday is to promote world peace by getting people to say hello to each other and break down the barriers that are created when we do not know someone else well enough. Introducing yourself, or even just saying “hello” to someone can create a positive and friendly atmosphere that will carry on throughout the entire day.

At Vending.com, we love this idea. People have always talked about “meeting at the water cooler” or the modern day equivalent, drink vending machine. To celebrate this holiday in your office, what places could you meet someone new or say “hello” to someone? Food and drinks are the perfect way to bring people together and casual settings like cafes, dining areas or vending machine areas function perfectly as social gather places.

We challenge you to use this entire week as a time to meet new people and create a more positive environment at your workplace just by saying hello and acknowledging the people around you. Who knows, you might meet a new best friend or learn something you would have never known!

Vending Machine Industry Confidence Index

Vending MarketWatch recently released a new study of the vending industry, the Vending Operator Confidence Index. The aim of this index is to measure the confidence vending operators have in the industry and assign it a positive or negative value. In their first ever index, Vending Market Watch rated the vending industry confidence level at 136.00. The average is 100 so a reading over that indicates various levels of positive outlooks. 136 puts it at a cautiously optimist outlook for the vending industry.

This index will be conducted monthly and give industry members a view of how the overall industry is doing on a more regular basis. The vending industry usually relies on annual reports or smaller studies and the monthly delivery of this survey will certainly give some unique insights into the industry. Having monthly indexes will most likely cause a few unduly high or low points based on industry trends or developments, but it will hopefully draw attention to those developments as well.

With new developments occurring more and more frequently and new vending machines for sale hitting the market, having a way to keep tab on these technological advances and the overall trend of the industry will be very helpful.

Energizing Vending Selections

Energy drinks are a very popular item in convenience stores, vending machines and grocery stores. Vending.com has seen the demand for energy drink vending selections explode over the last few years as more and more brands entered the market.

Currently, the major players in the energy drink game are Red Bull, Monster and Rockstar. While Red Bull claims the largest portion of the market with a 42% share, Monster has experience a lot of growth of the last few years and is now a close second with 37% of the market share. Rockstar rounds out the top three with 11% of the market share. While a distant third from the two industry leaders, Rockstar has more than double the share of remaining brands such as Amp, NOS and Full Throttle, all with 4% or less market share, according to a seven year study by Bevnet.com.

For drink vending machines, these energy-filled beverages have become popular alternatives to traditional caffeinated options such as soda or coffee. While it has caused health and dietary concerns, the largest growth of sales has been due to increased consumption by teens and young adults who are ditching coffee drinks favored by older consumers for energy drinks.

About Vending.com

Vending.com brings together a multitude of vending expertise through our circle of services. Everything you need to start, grow, or manage your vending business is provided through our easy online access. We provide vending services, financing, vending industry news, technical repair, parts and much more. Vending.com is one of the companies under the Wittern Group umbrella. Whether you are an entrepreneur starting your own vending machine business or expanding your current business, Vending.com offers you a full-range of new and used vending machines, financing, location assistance and other services to meet all of your vending needs. As a full-line vending sales company we provide customers nationwide with the right equipment for their client’s location. Our large selection of snack, soda machines, hot beverage, cold and frozen food and other quality vending machines can be configured and customized to fit any size location from small businesses to large factories. Let our network of vending machine companies go to work for you.

New Vending Trends for 2013

New Vending Trends for 2013As with any industry, the world of vending machines is rapidly evolving by the minute. What was once a business based on dispensing gumballs for quarters has evolved into a full suite of diverse services ranging from snack vending machines to fully-featured food machines. VendingMarketwatch.com has outlined the 5 biggest trends in the vending machine industry for 2013, ranging from new refreshment options to innovative ways of paying for snacks and sodas. The highlighted trends were as follows:

  • Healthy Vending – Read our blog or any vending news source for that matter, and you will immediately notice that healthy vending is here to stay. With new health regulations popping up all over and quality replacements for sugary treats, a good majority of vending machines all over the country are including calorie-conscious snacks.
  • Cashless Vending – Cashless transactions are becoming more and more common in every industry, and vending is no exception. Most current snack machines accept credit cards, and future products will allow for purchases with the swipe of a smartphone.
  • Micro markets – This new-age form of shopping puts a full store’s worth of product at a customer’s fingertips, and will likely complement the vending industry for years to come.
  • Machine Upgrades – Technology is evolving rapidly, and machines are following suit. From flatscreen displays to infra-red product scanners, the vending machines of the future are happening today.
  • Coffee – Customers love coffee. They also love vending machines. The two will make a strong pair for a long time.