Is Healthy Vending Realistic for Small Vendors?
During my training as a vending route driver, I have been thinking about the movement towards healthy vending for customers and how, logistically, a vending machine operator could work with product that spoils much faster than traditional vending snacks.
Shadowing my friend, an owner of a vending machine operation in Texas, we drove to a number of different locations across town, restocking machines. What I began to notice was that in every machine, there would always be a different product sold out more than other products from machines in different locations. People are all different, of course, but the machines were in locations with similar demographics within in the same city, sometimes in the same community. In one place, customers would drink more Big Red than Coke; in another, customers would drink more Dr. Pepper than Big Red. In terms of snacks, with all of the variety that my friend puts into the machines, some locations would be sold out of pastries while others are sold out of granola bars and peanut brittle. What implications does this variance have for healthy vending?
I asked my friend about his thoughts on healthy vending. He runs his business with his wife, so without me, he would be the only route driver. He told me that if he were to get into healthy vending, it would ruin his business. Even healthier snacks, like vegetable chips, would offer too little of a profit margin, and if he were to raise prices, his customers would not buy anything from his machines. Also, because product spoils a lot sooner, he would have to service his machines more frequently, making it much less cost effective. Additionally, none of his customers want healthier choices in their vending machines.
In a sense, small vendors suffer the most when it comes to healthy vending, but does that mean you should avoid healthy vending completely?
According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, out of the 141 million full and part-time workers, 63% are obese. Along with obesity comes higher health costs because of the increased risk for chronic diseases. Obesity is a result of eating too many foods with harmful carbohydrates and high in fat, according to Gary Taubes in his book Why We Get Fat. Others say that obesity is a result of a sedentary lifestyle and eating too much. Whatever the case is, it is in the interest of employers and employees that everyone remain healthy for a longer period of time. Embracing healthy vending and offering healthy snacks might help reduce obesity in the workplace, but does it mean that people will be willing to pay higher prices in order to keep vendors in business? As the country moves toward an increasingly healthier lifestyle, the answer gets closer and closer to yes.
Something even more surprising, according to a study done by the NPD research firm, people with the “healthiest” lifestyles snack more often, but the snacks involve healthier snacks, such as fruits. Fruits are usually at a similar if not higher price than traditional vending snacks. If people are eating more fruits and healthy snacks that the traditional snacks, one can infer that they are willing to pay more for the products, and that healthy vending might be a profitable endeavor.
Looking at these statistics and data, would healthy vending still work for a smaller vendor? Would his products sell for more and more often in their respective machines? Would it be cost effective?
This would depend heavily on the location. As I learned from my experience shadowing my friend, even similar demographics have different tastes when given the same selection of products. Having a consistent stock of the same products also helps the vendors reduce inventory costs when purchasing product. However, when trying to provide a vending service in a location, a vendor must find ways to survey the area to find out what will sell and if healthy vending is something worthwhile.
There could be a compromise in all of this, though. “Blended vending” could be the way forward if one does not want to risk one’s business by going all healthy vending but also serve markets that like the more traditional vending snacks. A vendor could place these blended vending machines in certain locations where snacks are purchased often, like in an office building, and see what people choose from the machines. This would be a great way to see if healthy vending can make the vending business more profitable since all vending machine operators want the same things: to provide excellent service to their clients while making a profit.
Parlevel Systems can Let You Know if Healthy Vending is Right for You
Parlevel Systems can help vendors with their business by providing the best vending management service (VMS) on Earth. With our inventory control and dynamic servicing features, among others, vendors who are looking to try new things in their business, such as embracing healthy vending or blending healthy with traditional snacks, will be given real time information of what is selling and when and what are the par levels for products in specific locations. We at Parlevel Systems are passionate about the vending industry, and we want to serve vendors with our excellent products while providing an unbeatable service and supporting vendors with our hero support.
Stay tuned with the Parlevel Vending Resources as we will have more discussions on trending topics in the vending industry and how we can help vendors with their business.