As you travel in your day-to-day life, there’s a good chance you’ve noticed a trend: more and more clusters of self-serve vending kiosks. Maybe you’ve bought something you needed from them — a sandwich to tide you over, a pair of earbuds for a flight, or a last-minute gift for someone.
Automated vending makes life more convenient for people with all kinds of needs, wherever they are. And that’s the fundamental reason why micro markets are sprouting up everywhere from malls to college campuses to service stations.
Keep reading to look deeper into why they’ve become so popular among businesses and other organizations to install, as well as why (and how) you can take advantage — and turn the trend into a revenue stream for your organization.
What is an Automated Retail “Micro Market”?
First, let’s define what we’re talking about: An automated retail micro market is an unattended bank of self-serve vending machines, which are usually placed in strategic, high-traffic locations to offer a wide range of items to people who pass by. They’re usually a cluster of different brands, impulse purchase items to raise the chances that the products available will meet someone’s needs.
Micro markets are spreading well beyond their original stomping grounds of airports and malls, and can now be found at hotels, stadiums and arenas, college and university campuses, tourist attractions, grocery stores and more.
Vendors are also expanding the range of items that they offer, beyond the traditional choices (namely hot and cold food, and small electronic items like headphones and chargers). Kiosks can dispense plenty of other items, and nowadays you’ll spot machines offering medicine and personal care supplies (Rexall Vending in pic), batteries and clothing, and more. Hotels and hospitals are using them to sell greeting cards, stuffed toys, souvenirs and other items to supplement or replace traditional gift shops. And beyond that, automated vending can be deployed for anything from jewelry to art — the sky’s the limit.
Why are micro markets on the rise?
The pandemic quickly created a lot of demand for self-serve and self-checkout vending, which helped drive the trend. By now, the advantages of automated micro markets have become clear to businesses even in the post-pandemic era. According to Grand View Research, the global market for retail vending machines is predicted to grow from US$52-billion in 2021 to US$129-billion by 2030. In line with these expectations, EMV transactions at food and beverage machines reportedly grew more than 400% in 2022.
Here are reasons why businesses are creating micro markets:
- Labour cost efficiency: Micro market kiosks are mostly unmanned, apart from when they’re being serviced or refilled with product. This frees up staff to work on other productive tasks.
- Expanding product offerings: Installing self-serve vending kiosks can allow you to add new items to your product offerings (or meet customers’ and guests’ impulse needs) — for example, a gas station could install a vending machine to offer hot snacks, or a gym could use one to offer a range of personal care supplies.
- Driving more revenue from ‘captive audiences’: Whether they’re customers or staff, people who are spending time at a site you control can be a source of revenue if you meet their needs via an automated kiosk.
- Increasing customer satisfaction: Micro markets deliver a host of other benefits to customers, including the convenience and safe, touchless interactions that people increasingly want in their transactions. Speed is another key benefit: Some 85% of customers believe self-service checkout options are faster than waiting in line.
Solutions for Micro Market Vending
An American Express report on the global growth of self-serve vending called internet-connected vending (or as we called it - Smart Vending) machines “a bright spot” in the industry, noting that “recent research predicts that sales of internet-connected vending machines will grow, driven by the increasing popularity of self-service.”
The report also says that to make the most of the opportunity that micro markets offer and “for improved returns … researchers recommend replacing older machines with new ones rather than retrofitting old machines.”
Signifi can help. Our Spark series offers state-of-the-art, modular units that can be combined and configured to meet a wide range of customer needs and contexts, as well as a huge range of products.
Our Elevate unit and Smart Vending units are attractive, easy to use, and offer the best uptime in the industry — altogether, they create a premium experience for both the business and the customer. They’re flexible in terms of what they can vend too — everything from an SD card to a teddy bear is fit for Elevate, and without the need for special packaging.
And for food items — at any temperature — Signifi’s A.I. Smart Fridge offers a range of features that allow you to offer a self-serve and self-checkout experience that delivers the maximum convenience, thanks to some of the most advanced technology in the industry.
Finally, all of our units can be customized to match your organization’s branding. And no matter which smart vending solution is right for your organization on the hardware side, you’ll be able to track, monitor and control the devices and keep track of inventory remotely thanks to SignifiVISION, our proprietary cloud-based software platform.