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 Vending MarketWatch and Automatic Merchandiser Announce 2015 "Pros to Know"

The second annual Automatic Merchandiser and Pros to Know Award recognizes vending, micro market and office coffee service professionals who are proven leaders in the industry. These teams and individuals have worked hard all year to move their company, organization and the industry forward and have faced this year’s challenges head on.

The 2015 Pros to Know innovators, made up of vending operators, marketers, manufacturer representatives, brokers, micro market teams, techies and entrepreneurs, were selected from a nomination pool of more than 115 applicants.

The list included notable industry leaders, such as:

Ryan McWhirter, Director of Product, 365 Retail Markets: 
McWhirter, a graduate from Michigan State University with a degree in Telecommunications, has a decade of experience in the interactive self-service technology field. At 365 Retail Markets, McWhirter finds his best ideas in the field with the customers, brainstorming solutions to any issues and proceeding on to build a prototype. This year McWhirter was an integral part of expanding the 365 software, releasing two service packs full of new features including security improvements, inventory controls and promotional tools.

Cherri Newbury, President, 

Newbury pioneered the ICS industry (Internet Coffee Service) back in 1998 and is still growing that industry concept today under the philosophy that ‘doing the same thing the same way is not how to write a company success story.’ Newbury works to adapt her company to meet changing consumer shopping habits, constantly evolving how the company markets, serves and ships to its customers.

Randall Huft, President + Creative Director, Innovation Agency: 

Huft has a 25-year career in marketing and advertising, is a well-known speaker and author on business and marketing topics and has developed programs and contributed to the growth of many successful companies, with the largest focus on the vending industry. Huft’s focus on the vending and automated retailing industry helps him understand the everyday challenges of manufacturers, operators and entrepreneurs looking to start in the vending space. In 2016, Huft’s company plans on expanding its Social Marketing Division, which helps connect companies with causes in new, engaging and mutually-beneficial ways.

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One area that is ripe with non-compliance is in regard to the size and configuration of the nutritional display.

According to the FDA, “Calorie declaration in or on the vending machine must be in a type size no smaller than the name of the food on the machine (not the food label), selection number, or price of the food as displayed on the vending machine, whichever is smallest; displayed with the same prominence, meaning the same color, or a color at least as conspicuous as the color of the name or price of the food or selection number; and set against the same contrasting background, or a background at least as contrasting as the background used for the item it is in close proximity to, i.e., name, selection number, or price of the food item as displayed on the machine.”

Beware, that many machines are being marketed as FDA complaint (and technically they may be), but when you put them in the field and try to load all the required information, you may find that units with small touchscreens may not have enough space to post the required information.

It is simply a matter of size - small touchscreens may be a major headache for vending operators, and may not offer enough “real estate” to display the required nutritional information in a size that meets government regulations.

Woe onto those poor vending operators that invest in new machines that make it impossible to meet FDA requirements.

So do your homework! The FDA requirements are good for the industry and good for the consumer.

We urge every vending operator to update their fleet, comply with the regulations, and enjoy the higher profits and increase sales that these new systems will provide.

FDA Compliant Systems:
A Hidden Opportunity

One of the biggest opportunities to hit the vending industry in decades is the new FDA requirement that vending operators must disclose nutritional and caloric content on the products sold in their machines. While some in the industry have tried to block this measure, and rightfully claim that updating their fleet of machines will cost a great deal of money, others have applauded this new regulation, as it will generate business for manufacturers, pump new technology-driven machines into the market, and ultimately provide valuable information to consumers – which will translate into more sales for operators.

So yes, it will cost money to invest in new machines, but in the long run, these systems will provide a better ROI, happier customers, and increased revenues.

According to John Murn, President of RSA Management Group and current President of the New York State Automatic Vending Association, the new FDA requirements are good for the industry.

“People are making healthier choices and consumers are looking for information (about the products they purchase),” he said. “With the right product mix, I expect sales to increase.”

Murn states that his group will purchase 2,500 new, FDA-compliant machines within this year.

Some of the new systems being introduced into the market to meet the new FDA requirements are quite stunning. The MultiShopper from California manufacturer AVT, features a large 8" touchscreen panel to increase customer engagement, and a topper screen that can play promotional announcements, ads or videos to attract interest and promote sales. The system also allows operators to change prices instantly and view real-time sales and inventory reports via a unique wireless control system.

Other FDA compliant machines will soon come onto the market, but owners and operators must know that many, if not most machines currently sold do NOT meet the FDA requirements, and using them, even if purchased brand new this year, could result in fines, penalties, and confiscation of systems and products.

Technology will play an increasingly important role in 2016, from payment options to EMV compliance. “In the year ahead, the industry will need to fully understand EMV, its liability implications for a low ticket retail environment like vending, and how one’s business intends to take action with this knowledge,” said Patrick Richards, cashless product manager at CPI. “Vending operators will need to determine what the risk and reward outcomes will be for their decision to or not to replace their cashless technology with EMV compatible ones.”

Customer Service will be an important driver in the industry in the coming year, successful vending operations will continue to be rooted in customer service. “No matter what we are selling, the items with the most perceived value are the items that will sell,” said Jack Brown, CEO of Eagle USA.

2016: Looking Ahead 


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Self-Service Technology Market Size Will Be Worth $39.07 Billion By 2022

As we enter a new year, industry professionals have begun preparing their companies to meet the demands and challenges of today’s business climate. In 2016, many operator challenges will be ongoing from the year before, like changing government regulations, increased competition for the consumer dollar and the rising cost of product. Despite these challenges, the future looks bright for the vending, office coffee service (OCS) and micro market industry as operators add more healthy alternatives, diversification and technology that give them the opportunity to increase services and revenues. 

Healthy food options are going to be key for operators in both micro markets and vending.  The challenge is finding healthy items that aren't too cost prohibitive,” said Mark Stephanos, vice president of micro markets at Five Star Food Service

Looking Deeper

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Self Service

The self-service technology market is expected to reach USD 39.07 billion by 2022, according to a new study by Grand View Research, Inc.

Growing focus by enterprises for offering convenient services to the customers along with customizing cost of these services is estimated to drive demand. Deployment of several types of technologically advanced kiosks and vending machines has revolutionized the industry with an improved automation experience.

Various enterprises operating in sectors including food & beverages, retail, healthcare and banking are estimated to be the key demand facilitators. The industry is driven by smart features including NFC advancements, remote monitoring and cashless transactions.

Increasing awareness for active safety systems, changing lifestyle and enhanced security in financial transactions are projected to propel demand. Biometrics for self-service products has helped consumers to experience secure and safe transactions.

New automated retailing systems will be outfitted with technology that will capture consumer demographic information, and will harness that data to improve sales, deliver targeted messaging, and provide operators with valuable insight.