Looking back at our predictions from this time last year, we foresaw increases in cash-free, more connected, and fresher vending options. How have these changes impacted vending machine distributors? Will these trends continue to progress, or will the pendulum swing in another direction entirely in 2017?
- What’s Staying? The universally popular updates to payment options won’t be going anywhere; vendors and buyers alike found that these easier cashless payment options streamline the snack purchase. So too, the accessibility of wireless connections between a vending machine distributor and their machines to track sales and inventory have become staples in a very short time. The popularity of short shelf life novelty items, such as baked goods, will also continue, though cupcakes will be largely replaced by macarons and donuts. Ongoing steady growth in specialized vending machines is projected, from combination machines to non-food items to customizable coffee systems, based on the widespread demand over the past months and years.
- What’s New? Now that wifi enabled machines are becoming ubiquitous, vending machine distributors will employ proprietary payment systems, such as Apple Pay, to create loyalty programs that don’t require any additional action from consumers at the time of purchase. Furthermore, linking these loyalty programs to flash sales via social media could be a very interesting development in the field, if applied judiciously. In terms of specific products, customers will looking for sustainable chocolates and more plant-based protein options, as part of the larger ongoing move towards healthier, or at least healthier sounding, snack choices.
Overall, consumers are becoming more confident and comfortable utilizing vending machines for healthier snacking, expecting smooth, error-free transactions, and effortlessly accepting vending machines as product and service providers in a variety of non-food related fields. This opens the door for some fascinating future developments in the world of vending, moving the industry from a past perception of being the last resort for a quick, low-nutrient snack to a role as a desirable and high-end food service, complete with upscale payments options.