Workplaces up and down the UK rely on snack vending machines to provide healthy, tasty and great value food to their team, helping them stave off hunger and remain focused and productive throughout the day. But where other areas of vending have seen rapid innovation, what’s the next big thing in the world of snack vending machines?
In this article, we look at some of the latest technological innovations and consider the future of the snack vending machine.
Digital in-machine promotions
We’re seeing the rise of digital shelf labels in convenience stores, larger format supermarkets and indeed in vending setups. Some snack vending machines can already be configured to make use of digital shelf labels, but it’s not an expense that most buyers invest in right now, and the benefits are not yet fully realised.
Systems such as Evoca’s Electronic Tray Labels (ETL) offer greater ease of use than conventional tray labelling, meaning that there’s no need for printing and manually updating shelf pricing labels every time a product line changes or a price is amended. However, the benefits of this are more operational, and there are limits to these shelf labels from a marketing and retailing perspective.
Over the next five to ten years we could well see larger format digital signage within snack vending machines for sale, providing operators with options for signposting meal deal items, sales promotions and highlighting items which are discounted, with ease.
Smart snack vending machines, intelligent replenishment
In terms of stock rotation, management and replenishment, snack vending machines have typically been very straightforward, with vending operators manually checking stock levels when they visit site.
These stock variances are then logged on various digital platforms, helping operators understand purchase trends including most and least popular product lines. It also helps them identify the stock which is at risk of going out of date, and making sure these are promptly removed from the machines when the date is close.
With the Internet of Things becoming more of a reality, snack machines are getting smarter. It’s highly likely that in the next five years, new machines that are installed will be networked as standard, allowing vending data to be fed directly back to operators without having to manually log changes.
This means vending companies have a clear, always-live view of a vending machine’s sales and operating history, and can make more timely and impactful calls on high or low performing products. It also offers a major benefit over unconnected machines – if a networked vending machine has broken down and no products are being vended, this can be detected (and an engineer service call generated) much sooner.
Recognition and demographic profiling
We’ve seen this technology in use by OOH advertisers over the past few years, with facial recognition software used to pitch products to a specific user based on their demographic data, including sex, ethnicity and even their mood.
This one has some way to go, with privacy concerns and other issues relating to profiling, but smart technology could allow snack vending machines to identify a known user and highlight specific products that fit with their purchase history. It could also see the end of passcodes, account logins and fingerprint access, making for a smoother, barrier free purchase.
There are also benefits from an energy saving perspective, with machines potentially being in a low energy, or standby state and only waking or reactivating the lights and user interface, when a consumer walks within a certain distance of the machine.
The future of snack vending machines
Whichever way the world’s leading snack vending machine manufacturers decide to innovate over the next decade, it’s clear that there will be movements towards an even more connected and intelligent future, with consumers finding it easier and more satisfying than ever to get a snack from a vending machine.
If you’re interested in buying a snack vending machine full of today’s cutting edge technology, we can help. Our expert team of vending consultants can help you identify your biggest challenges and find bespoke solutions that work for your workforce.
Give us a call on 01865 341011 or send us an enquiry.