The core dynamic of the vending business is very simple – if you give your customers the right products at the right time, you’ll have a profitable vending machine. But, as anyone in the business will tell you, that’s easier said than done.
Machines break down, products get sold out, and people’s preferences change. Stocking the perfect selection is both science and art. Unless, of course, you have the right technology. Then it’s pure science. But more on that in just a bit.
A vending business must be in a perpetual state of optimization to maximize profit. There are 4 main things to pay attention to ensure your vending machines generate as much profit as possible:
- Uptime – the machine should always be in working condition
- Product stock – requested products and drinks should be always available
- Product selection – the machine should have the right mix of products and drinks
- Delivery – consumers should be able to get the requested product or drink
We’ll take a look at each of these in turn and learn how the right IoT and telemetry tools for the vending and coffee businesses can ensure you’re always getting the most out of your vending machines. But first, what are these tools?
IoT and telemetry tools for vending businesses
IoT (The Internet of Things) describes the network of physical objects—“things”—that are embedded with sensors, software, and other technologies for the purpose of connecting and exchanging data with other devices and systems over the Internet.
Telemetry simply refers to the process of capturing and transmitting data remotely from the object to the receiving system.
When it comes to vending machines, IoT and telemetry tools can provide you with a wide range of data, such as real-time machine technical status, product stock levels, product sales information, consumption trends, and numerous other things.
“IoT and telemetry tools” can sound quite intimidating, but, at the end of the day, it’s a platform that consists of a hardware device (like Vendon’s vBox), that you plug into your vending machine to collect data from the machine, and a software application (like Vendon Cloud) where you can access this data and insights.
Once you’ve connected a vBox to a machine, it starts collecting technical and sales data from the machine and transmitting it in real-time to the secure Vendon Cloud application, where customers can access this data to improve operational efficiency, analyze machine and product performance, and increase revenue. This is great because that means you can access data both from your computer or smartphone at any time and from anywhere in the world.
Already sounds great, right? But the biggest advantage of Vendon is that we can help grow your business by giving information on what exactly is happening with your machine, thereby reducing costs and improving sales. To be more specific, you can view the real-time status of your vending machines, see detailed data on product stock, analyze your sales data, plan efficient re-stocking and maintenance routes based on demand, obtain up-to-date technical and sales information. And so much more.
That being said, let’s return to the 4 traits of a profitable vending machine and how tools like Vendon’s IoT solution can be a game-changer for your business.
1. The machine should always be in working condition
Any downtime equates to lost income. Concurrently, having your machine up and running is the single most important profitability factor. With so many moving parts, things getting stuck, as well as the occasional aggressive customer, maintenance and repairs are an integral part of the vending business.
But you know this already from experience. The real issue is response time. Responding as quickly as possible, ideally, the moment a technical issue arises, is essential for minimizing machine downtime and maintaining healthy operations.
If you rely on the customer to call a number on the vending machine to report an issue, then you’ll be late in learning about downtime. Having a digital solution that notifies you the moment something goes sideways is key for responding quickly and ensuring maximum uptime.
With Vendon IoT solution, you can automatically get notified the moment your machine encounters a problem. That way, you can react instantly, fix the issue, and keep downtime minimal, thus keeping a healthy revenue flow while providing excellent service to your customers.
2. Requested products and drinks should be always available
Even if your vending machine achieves the highly coveted 100% uptime, it will be all for nothing if it sits empty. Timely restocking of products or ingredients is essential to keep your profit flow uninterrupted and customers satisfied.
Once again, a reactive approach is just not good enough. The less time your machine sits on empty, the better for you, and, ideally, it should never come to that. But waiting by your machines at all times to restock immediately defeats the purpose of the vending business.
Studying people’s buying habits, restocking after peak hours – these can be good solutions, but they’re not ideal, as sometimes you end up restocking too early or too late.
IoT and telemetry tools are a perfect solution to keep your vending machine as profitable as possible. As mentioned previously, using Vendon’s solution you can see real-time stock status. Not only does Vendon give you precise information on how many products are left, but you also get notifications when things are running low, so you can re-stock preemptively. On top of that, Vendon helps you plan efficient re-stocking routes that will help reduce fuel costs and unnecessary visits and ensure you get to each machine with the right amount of products.
3. The machine should have the right mix of products and drinks
By now, we’ve got the core elements in order – your machine is up and running and it’s always stocked.
The next thing that can strongly impact profitability is product selection. Having the right product available at the right time is a near-guaranteed sale. Unfortunately, customer product preferences change and evolve quite rapidly and it can be challenging to keep up.
It’s oftentimes easier and more profitable to just go with a standard classic selection that always works, rather than try to optimize for emerging preferences and getting it wrong. Plus, following seasonality trends and other shifts in demand can be a terrifying amount of work.
Once again, Vendon’s telemetry tools can empower you with the information you need to achieve the best product mix you can. With detailed reports in the Vendon Cloud you can easily analyze short-term and long-term purchasing patterns and habits for a single machine or for an entire network of them, via centralized data.
If you have multiple vending machines, this can be particularly handy, as you can see all data in one platform and compare different trends and then, for example, apply lessons learned across all your fleet or move your machines around to better suit local preferences.
4. Consumers should be able to get the requested product or drink
Finally, let’s talk about payment methods. The more payment methods you offer, the more people can access your vending machine and get the products they desire. All your optimizations are in vain if, when the customer is ready to buy, they discover that they can’t actually get what they want since they can’t pay for it.
Great user experience is one that minimizes friction and offering a customer’s preferred payment method, be it cash, credit/debit card, or one of the many types of contactless payments, is a fantastic way of doing just that. A case in point is that vending machine sales typically increase by about 20% or more after a cashless payment method is added.
But adding options to pay by mobile phone or by card, is just half the story. Operators can also add closed-loop payment solutions to enable customer’s employees to get free or discounted products on the specific machines in the office or factory.
Vendon’s QuickPik is an example of just that – it’s a loyalty platform and mobile payment app for employees, which enables employers to provide free or discounted products and beverages to employees. With options to set discounts and create a variety of bonus schemes for different employee groups, this is a solution that is highly appealing to the pandemic-affected business, as companies try to minimize costs, whereas employees enjoy the convenience of contactless payments.
IoT and telemetry tools can give you the insights about your vending machines you wish you had. They allow you to be proactive in ensuring smooth operations, as well as give you the business intelligence you need to stay ahead of the curve. Specifically, they help you be on top of the 4 most important factors that determine vending machine profitability: uptime, stock, selection, and delivery.
Vendon’s IoT solution is used in over 70 countries both by large-scale and smaller vending and coffee operators. Whether you have one machine or thousands – Vendon is here to help you make your vending business as profitable as possible.