The micro market revolution is transforming the way businesses provide food and beverages to their staff and customers. As the micro market industry continues to grow, it is important for businesses to understand the ins and outs of micro markets and how they can benefit from the convenience and cost-savings that come with implementing an unmanned retail solution.
In this blog post, we take a look at the basics of micro markets, the benefits of implementing a micro market and dispel some common myths that you may have heard.
What is a Micro Market?
A micro market is a self-service food and beverage retailing solution that offers customers an easy and efficient way to purchase snacks, drinks, hot food and other items. It’s a convenient alternative to operating a vending machine or queuing in line at the canteen tills, as customers can quickly grab, scan and pay for items in seconds. Micro markets use technological innovations such as smart kiosks or tills and intelligent back office stock tools to make them operate as effectively and efficiently as a self service experience at your nearest supermarket.
Micro markets are most suitable for businesses that either need to upsize from their existing vending setup, or downsize from a full catering and canteen solution. Micro markets enable businesses to meet their customers’ needs more fully than with vending, thanks to an increase in product line availability, and more fully than catering when it comes to true 24/7 unmanned operation.
The self-service till approach has grown rapidly in the UK retail sector in recent years and micro markets are an extension of this. With micro markets, businesses can provide a much greater range of products, with sales promotions such as meal deals, without having staff need (or want) to leave site. A micro market does especially well when fresh food is needed, as they help offer a range of nutritious, wholesome and tasty items that can be eaten cold or heated up in the micro market.
How do Micro Markets Benefit Businesses?
Statistics show that the number of UK businesses with canteens or on-site catering has declined by almost 50% in the last 10 years, with many being replaced by micro markets or other unmanned equivalents. In a time of increasing costs, and more flexible working patterns, the need for a 24/7, convenient food and drink solution with an expansive range of products, is increasing.
Large sites which have a significant proportion of their staff working on shift patterns and an absence of quality food and drink in the local area, will see multiple benefits from installing a micro market. Having staff able to get great tasting food regardless of their shift, and without needing to pre-plan packed lunches, makes life substantially more convenient and keeps staff well fed and productive at all times.
With catering setups often being too expensive to maintain due to their high staff costs and low window for sales, there are also huge commercial benefits to installing a micro market. Micro market operators typically offer the build, coffee machines, fridges and any other equipment on a lease basis which can help businesses stagger the cost across three to seven years and avoid a capital hit.
A micro market contract also tends to be aligned with a management and maintenance agreement which gives site operators a hassle-free and hands-off solution that will be replenished, cleaned and maintained by experts, saving internal staff time and making sure that everything runs perfectly, day-in, day-out.
What are the Drawbacks of Micro Markets?
When it comes to drawbacks of micro markets, there are relatively few. One of the main drawbacks is that they may not be suitable for smaller offices that don’t have enough space or budget to install and maintain a solution. There is the option to install a much reduced solution to fit smaller spaces, but the running costs for kiosks and back room management may make this less affordable than vending.
On the whole, though, the advantages of micromarkets far outweigh the potential drawbacks. The convenience and cost-effectiveness they offer makes them a popular choice for businesses looking for an effective way to provide snacks and drinks to their employees.
Dispelling Micro Market Myths
Businesses often have security concerns when it comes to micromarkets, but this is a common misconception. The trust-based system of self-service used in micromarkets is largely the same as in supermarkets, where there is little evidence to support the idea of theft being worse in a micromarket.
Another common myth about micromarkets is that the quality of food isn’t as good as from catering, however this isn’t true. Micromarkets offer a wide variety of fresh and frozen food that is just as high quality as any other store or catering service. Product ranges stocked by micromarket vendors have rapidly broadened in recent years, and you can expect to see fresh sandwiches, wraps, paninis, soups, noodles, sushi and much more in your fresh food section!
Similarly, some people think that the food offered in micromarkets is unhealthy, but that’s far from the truth. Many micromarkets offer healthy and nutritious options, making them a great choice for businesses looking to provide their employees with nutritious snacks and meals. This is also the case for food designed specifically for those with dietary requirements such as being gluten or dairy intolerant, or vegetarian. These products can be included in the range to cater for staff with these needs.
How to Choose the Right Micro Market Solution for Your Business
Choosing the right operating partner for your micro market is essential for the success of your business. Having a reliable, trustworthy and experienced partner to manage the entire micro market solution for you can ensure the smooth running of the process.
There are a few considerations to make when choosing the right micro market solution for your business, such as the number of staff on-site, the type of meals and products staff want, and the price point for various products. You’ll need to make sure you select an operating partner that understands these needs and is able to cater to them, as well as offering a fully managed service for micromarkets.
In addition to making sure the partner understands your needs, you’ll also want to ensure that they provide comprehensive customer service and support, so that any issues that arise can be quickly and efficiently dealt with. It’s also important to look into their track record of successful implementations and their expertise in setting up and managing micromarkets.
By finding an experienced operating partner who is willing to take on the challenge of setting up a micro market, you can rest assured that your business will benefit from the advantages of this type of solution.
This is where Connect comes in. We’re a leading micro market provider in the UK and have been implemented these innovative new self service setups since 2016.
Our clients, like Oxford Bus Company, love what we do in our micro markets and staff enjoy great quality food and drink every single day.
Why not speak to our team on 01865 341011 or contact us to find out more about our micro markets. We’d love to hear from you!