The rise of micro markets in recent years has been a major factor in transforming the way businesses operate in the UK. Micro markets are small scale markets that offer products and services to customers, usually through vending machines or kiosks.
As these markets continue to evolve and become increasingly sophisticated, it is likely that they will have an even greater impact on the UK's workplaces over the next decade.
In this blog post, we will explore how micro market innovations could affect the UK's workplaces and how organisations can best prepare for the changes ahead.
The rise of the micro market
Micro markets have become extremely popular in the United States over the past decade, with more than 37,000 micro markets now estimated to be operational across the country, and the US micro market sector worth in excess of $1.7bn.
The micro market concept jumped across the pond in the mid 2010s and has been making its mark in workplaces across the UK since. In the last year alone, more than 1,000 micro markets have been installed in UK workplaces. This number is expected to double in the next two years as micro markets become increasingly popular with businesses, and alternative setups such as catering become less commercially viable.
The growth of the micro market sector is expected to continue at a rapid rate over the next decade as businesses recognise the immense benefits of having an on-site retail space for employees to use.
The benefits of micro markets
Micro markets provide a modern, convenient and cost-effective alternative to traditional vending machines for businesses looking for a more comprehensive food and drink solution. They are a great option for companies that have outgrown their traditional vending machines and need a more comprehensive offering. Micro markets are completely unattended retail, giving employees the freedom to browse the selection and purchase products without having to wait in line or for food to be prepared and made available by a catering team.
Installing a micro market in the workplace can have a major impact on employee satisfaction. Offering an expanded selection of snacks, drinks and other items, as well as extended hours of operation and no need to wait in line, micro markets can significantly reduce the stress associated with breaks and lunchtimes.
Employees will also appreciate being able to find items that better suit their needs or wants. For example, those with dietary restrictions may have greater access to items that fit their needs or those who prefer healthier options may have access to a wider range of options than what is usually offered in traditional vending machines. With more and more workers having specific dietary requirements or preferences, being able to put something on-site which covers all bases, is greatly appreciated by employees.
Overall, micro markets are an attractive option for businesses looking to offer their employees more convenience and variety when it comes to purchasing food and beverages. With no lines to wait in, expanded selections and extended hours of operation, micro markets provide employees with an enhanced shopping experience that increases satisfaction and can lead to increased productivity.
The future of micro markets in the UK
As the micro market revolution continues to spread, some of the latest technologies used in unattended retail are beginning to make their way to the UK. Amazon Go has brought a number of ground-breaking technologies to the sector, utilising the computing power of AWS alongside myriad in-store cameras and sensors to register when items have been selected, in a trial which could soon revolutionise the micro market experience in the UK.
Other cutting-edge technologies being used in the micro market space include facial recognition software, which allows customers to quickly and securely sign into their account by simply looking into a camera, and weighted shelves or RFID products, to identify when items have been picked and/or left a store. These are incredibly useful tools for micro markets that are located in busy areas, as they eliminates the need for customers to both scan products and enter their credentials each time they visit.
In addition, with advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, micro markets could soon be able to adjust prices dynamically based on customer behaviour, stock levels and other factors. This could help them to remain competitive against other retailers, while also providing customers with the best deals possible.
How to get started with a micro market
Overall, it’s clear that the micro market space is continuing to evolve and innovate, and it looks likely that many of these new technologies could be making their way to the UK in the near future. With the potential to drastically improve efficiency and customer experience, the future of micro markets in the UK looks very exciting indeed.
If you’re looking to understand how unattended retail solutions could work for you, and to find out more about our Deli Cafe micro market concept, speak to our friendly team.
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