Competition in the Vending Machine Industry — Healthy or Unhealthy?
I want to call attention to a blog I recently read on www.vendingmarketwatch.com. In the blog post, written by Alfonso Flores, he argues that vendors, for the most part, like each other enough not to cut each other out getting contracts, specifically micro markets. He says that vendors should stop competing against each other and work together to bring up the vending machine industry as a whole.
I have been in the vending machine industry a shorter time than Mr. Flores, but I can say without a doubt that there is a lot of competition to be had in the vending industry, and some of that competition is healthy. Other parts of that competition are obviously not going to be healthy.
Competition is a huge part of what makes America the country that it is today. With competition comes improvements in methods and technology, better price points, variety of products, faster pace of innovation, improvements in quality of service, and more information for consumers to consider. I would argue that all of these things are important for the vending machine industry as a whole to develop and prosper. For example, because vendors are more often competing with convenience stores, as Mr. Flores says, micro markets were developed. And because vendors who want to do work with micro markets want a competitive edge, they roll out their versions of micro markets, and some are successful while others fail.
While micro markets vary in shape, size, and functionality, those that are successful often share some great features. They allow many payment options to help you gain new customers as well as increase sales with the implementation of cashless options. They come with a built in intelligent management system with features such as product ordering, warehousing, prekitting, dynamic routing, and more. A large fear with micro markets, so some of the great micro markets have a security system that works alongside them such as that offered by Nest. As is the case with all technology, a support team is absolutely necessary. These great features all need to be a part of your micro market to take benefit from it as much as possible. Companies strive to offer you these and more in this competitive, growing industry.
However, competition in the vending machine industry can be unhealthy if done wrong. For example, in my time serving as a route driver for Chow Time Vending, I have witnessed some of the lengths other vendors will go to get an account and push another vendor out. My friend, the owner of Chow Time Vending, shared an account with another vendor, we’ll call him Vendor B. My friend would have a snack machine at the location while Vendor B would have a soda machine there. When Vendor B decided that he could make more money selling snacks as well, he made a deal with my friend and said that he would give some leads to other accounts in the city in exchange for the account at that location. My friend agreed, and since he was running his operation by himself, he could not pick up his snack machine promptly. In the end, Vendor B admitted that he stole the machine from the location and moved it elsewhere. This type of behavior is unhealthy for the vending machine industry and gives vendors a bad name.
Technological Competition Will Drive the Vending Machine Industry Forward
Mr. Flores, in his blog post, discussed that some vendors were slashing prices in their micro markets to make them more attractive for different accounts. This, I would argue, is a much healthier form of competition than what Vendor B did, but it does not do much to move the vending machine industry forward in the short term. It does, however, move the vending machine industry forward in the long term because that means that there will be more micro markets available for vendors to analyze and determine whether or not they are a viable option for their vending business. It also allows for the public to get used to the idea of a micro market, much like the public had to get used to the idea that they could not take as much holy water as they wanted when the vending machine was invented.
I agree with Mr. Flores in saying that, generally speaking, vendors do get along with each other; however, I do not agree with him in saying that we should not be in competition with others in the vending machine industry. Competition is healthy, and it will take vending to the next level as the most adaptable vendors out there will find new ways to service their accounts and still be profitable. For example, if vendors use Parlevel Systems VMS for their remote vending management (RVM), they will definitely see their profits rise from where they are. Check our website for more details on how we can benefit vendors and their businesses through services and products such as our micro markets. As for competition, I say that we should all keep it up and remember that we all should do our best to serve our customers. In the end, it is only through them that the vending machine industry can develop and expand.