If you’re looking to buy a vending machine, you’re probably looking at a snack vending machine and thinking about how to get great quality snacks and cold drinks into the workplace for your staff to enjoy. It’s possible you’re also considering a floor standing hot drink machine or a similar type vending machine in the workplace, as you struggle to get your favourite soft drink or snack out of the machine.
What you probably aren’t considering is a replacement or addition to your fresh food and lunch options as part of your vending requirements, because the thought of fresh food vending machines isn’t a pleasant one. All that food slowly going off in a metal box, with stale bread and floppy, wet salad in sandwiches which only ever see the inside of the machine and the bottom of the kitchen bin.
If this is what you’re thinking, it’s time you considered the possibility of fresh food vending on your site – times have changed and the range of great quality fresh food vending options you can now offer to your staff is incredible. In this article, we’re going to show you that when it comes to food and drink in the workplace, vending really can do it all.
Fresh food vending machines are getting popular, but not as you might remember them
Egg and cress on white bread, in flimsy transparent plastic packaging and hand-scrawled use by dates – we’ve all seen them in petrol stations or hotels in old carousel vending machines. These old vending machines don’t entice you to buy from them, and you’d be forgiven for worrying about the quality and taste of some of the products that are being sold from them.
In 2022, you’d be hard pressed to find many of these machines still in service, mainly due to the age and reliability of the equipment, but also because the world of food and drink has rapidly evolved, making technology like this all but obsolete. Yes, you can still buy vending machines such as these in the UK, but there are far better vending options available now with substantially higher product capacity, that utilise cutting edge technology to make for a great user experience.
The most well recognised new product on the market is the commercial smart fridge – it’s sleek, can hold a huge amount of products, and comes with in-built contactless payment technology for card and smartphone payments. At Connect Vending, we work with leading vending machine suppliers to bring the latest and best commercial smart fridge technology to our clients.
With these improvements to fresh food vending machines, comes far cheaper and easier access to refrigerated supply chains, helping move high quality and quicker-to-perish fresh food to sites in less time than ever before.
Hot drinks machines are now more reliable, and vend fantastic coffee and tea
One of the most recognisable types of vending machine is the hot drink vending machine. They’ve been big in films for decades, often as the focal point for conversation in hospital corridors and waiting rooms, or police station lobbies. They serve a vital role in many workplaces, providing employees, visitors and customers with coffee, hot chocolate and tea, any time of the day.
However, films can also give an outdated vision of hot drink vending, with vending technology moving on leaps and bounds in the last 10 years alone. Some businesses and organisations are still clinging on to their old vending equipment, despite it being costly and time ineffective to keep them in a good state and operating well. In these settings you may still find beige plastic cups and watery, poor quality coffee drinks, but these are the exception in a world of high quality, customisable bean to cup coffee and fresh brew loose tea.
Today’s average coffee vending machine is a long way from this tragic past, and the UK’s leading vending machine manufacturers now sell machines packed with intelligent technology to increase vend speed, deliver drinks safely, and provide the sort of tasty coffee that you’d pick up from one of the high street coffee chains.
If you want to buy an office coffee machine, you have a lot of choices to make. Will you be wanting a floor standing coffee machine, or a table top coffee machine that’ll sit neatly on a worktop in the office kitchen? Will you be wanting powdered milk, a fresh milk coffee machine or a unit that can manage two different types of milk without any cross-contamination? And probably the most important question of all, would you be happy with an instant coffee machine, or do you need the high quality coffee of a bean to cup coffee machine?
If you find all these options overwhelming, our team here at Connect Vending can help you find the perfect solution. Get in touch to arrange a call or site meeting with our vending experts.
There’s also great news from an environmental perspective. Plastic cups have largely been replaced by recyclable paper alternatives, or with reusable plastic cups or mugs, and used coffee grounds can now be repurposed and used as biofuel following processing, reducing carbon emissions and making use of the potential energy still held in waste coffee.
Technology is making the vending experience easier and more convenient than ever
Vending machines traditionally make use of a lot of different moving elements, particularly in snack machines and cold drinks vending machines, with moving cradles or lifts and rotating spirals to move items from shelf to vend hatch as quickly and safely as possible. The technology was effective, and still is in some formats, but it has drawbacks when it comes to the reliability and durability of some components.
Commercial smart fridges and other unattended retail solutions have driven technology forward at pace, and has spawned the arrival of internet connected, remotely lockable fridges, digital stock management through weighted shelves, and self-service scan-and-go till terminals. Collectively, they are enabling the removal of barriers that traditional vending machines have, removing the need for complicated internal machinery and helping customers have easier engagement with their food and drink.
This technology also gives operators and businesses greater flexibility and additional tools to compete with high street meal deal and promotional offerings, with tills having customisable promotions and packages. Employers are particularly happy with this new functionality, as a vending machine in the workplace helps staff stay on-site and engaged throughout the day, without them needing to head off site to access other food and drink offerings.
Micro markets are the future of vending, and they’re making waves
The culmination of technology, food and drink shelving without barriers and high quality coffee machines, is the latest innovation to hit the world’s unattended retail space – the micro market.
This takes away the glass facades, keypads and other physical barriers from vending machines and provides the sort of retail environment that is familiar to consumers when visiting convenience stores and other retail settings – self serve, grab and go shopping. It helps build trust and credibility as consumers can pick up and inspect products before deciding whether to purchase or not, something which hasn’t previously been possible with vending machines in the past.
They are also the perfect environment for fresh food vending, especially healthy vending, with a range of items like paninis, sandwiches, wraps, toasties, salads and more being available each and every day. Paired with food preparation equipment, these make for filling and nourishing lunches for staff, and means no more Sunday evening food prep for the work week.
Are you interested in learning more about how your organisation can revolutionise on-site food and drink through vending and unattended retail? Speak to our experienced team of vending experts on 01865 341011 or contact us to arrange a free site visit.