Technology Will Shape the Future of Vending
According to a recent survey by KPMG LLC, technology is driving the food and beverage industry’s growth. Services like Facebook and Twitter along with mobile/online marketing and the cloud have completely changed the way large companies are doing business. They are changing operations based on customer insights and analytics derived from consumer interaction via mobile marketing and social media. Roughly two-thirds of food executives “say they have adopted, or plan to adopt, cloud technologies into their business strategies and operations.” In this way, they can show that they are listening to customers, increase transparency, and serve customer needs accordingly. It is essentially taking something that was a big “best guess” game and turning it into much more of a science than an art.
This is important to consider because the same thing will drive the vending industry forward: technology. NAMA has been a big proponent for technology, such as the use of telemetry in vending machines and micro markets, which would not exist without the use of technology. There are other opportunities, as well, for the industry and vendors to consider for technology. For example, with a lot of the free tools available for people to track and post on social media, vendors can create a presence on the Internet and do more than advertise themselves. To organize this idea further, we have compiled a list of three ways technology will benefit the vending industry.
Social media is here to stay. The people who hate it are on it, and the people who love it have made careers around it. Social media is on your phone, in your community, all over the web, and companies everywhere are adopting strategies to leverage it in order to get the most out of it. The point is that you cannot escape it. People are talking about your business, and you have no idea it is happening, but with social, it is possible. For vending, it is a little different because it is not like vendors have their business names all over the machines. However, there is an opportunity in tracking what people are saying about their experience with vending machines, reaching out to them immediately through a medium you know they are going to check, and helping to solve problems before they become bigger problems. We previously wrote a blog on ways vendors can use social media, so please refer back to that post to get more details. The list is ongoing as we are also learning more about social media and how best to reach out to people.
We have also written a blog previously about the cloud and what it has to do with vending. The great thing that the cloud has brought us is convenience. Instead of purchasing large servers or using an expensive computer to handle remote tasks, all one has to do is use a cloud service and send, receive, and access information from anywhere one has an Internet connection. The way the cloud is going to change vending is through its usage in telemetry, like the one ParLevel Systems has. No matter what computer, smartphone, or tablet one is using, a person can easily access the information about their vending company and make the best operating decisions possible. Instead of playing the vending guessing game, vendors can now know what is going on in their entire business all hours of the day and night, just like when their vending machines are in operation.
Essentially, data about data. For example, if a vendor has a website and they would like to know how many people are accessing website, when they are accessing it, and how long they are staying on it, they would need to utilize an online tool, such as Google Analytics. If a vendor is on social media and wants to know what posts are most popular, what links people are clicking on the most, and what content is most popular with their audience, then they would need to use another online tool, such as Hootsuite or Buffer. All of this sounds very complicated, but when you know what information you want to look for, there is a tool that can help one find that out. The reason why one would want to know this information is to measure the effectiveness of their uses of technology. If one cannot measure something, then one cannot control it, as the saying goes. Therefore, if you’re going out there on the Internet and want to understand how well you’re doing with your effort, then using a tool to measure data is essential. We can talk more about this point in a later blog.
There is still a lot of growth to be had in the vending industry, and technology will be able to take us there. Vending, for the most part, has been using technology from the 1980s to function in a day and age when people have more technology in their pockets than there was in the Apollo space missions. We are more connected than ever before, and vending should not be left in the dark again. Technology will drive the food industry forward, but I strongly believe that technology will drive the vending industry forward, as well. We have a long way to go, but we will get there, and we are excited to go on this journey with you all.
Quote source: https://www.kpmg.com/US/en/IssuesAndInsights/ArticlesPublications/Documents/food-beverage-outlook-survey-2013.pdf