By BRITTANY FARB GRUBER
Wanting to take advantage of the micro market segment's continued upswing? Here are several tips on how to incorporate a micro market into a vending route:
1. Technology Solutions
Technology, such as point-to-point connectivity and forecasting software, is critical when incorporating a micro market into vending routes. For example, plan-o-grams for each location help operators create a directed product strategy that achieves mix and margin objectives.
"Many micro market products and plan-o-grams differ from traditional vending, allowing the operator to be free to expand the offerings beyond the traditional constraints of vending column space and product size limitations," said Mark Bruno, chief operating officer at Servomation Refreshments Inc. in New Canaan, CT.
Bruno explains plan-o-grams are easily accessible on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets and are often used in forecasting software by uncovering areas of opportunity routinely overlooked in the past. Although historically a physical diagram or drawing, modern plan-o-grams can also be more easily managed and kept up-to-date in real time digitally with mobile devices.
2. Training To Understand A New Market
Extensive, well-rounded training for delivery and route personnel is also essential to successfully incorporate a micro market into a vending route. Employees should have a clear, detailed sense of the merchandising focus needed to market products effectively and gain maximum customer appeal.
"It is more likely there will be a greater emphasis on perishables, more diverse SKU management and a greater need to have the market not looked picked over," said Bruno.
Attention to detail is as crucial as ever with micro markets. Micro markets present an increased need to expiration dates as well as the challenge of more SKUs to look through. With the added factor of constantly picked-over products, employees also need to be instructed to maintain shelf inventory and use shelve and cooler inserts properly. And finally, due to the ever-changing innovation in the industry, employees should be encouraged to stay abreast of current trends in order to contribute new ideas and concepts that may ultimately increase bottom lines in the micro market segment.
3. Customized Carrying Caddies
Customized carrying caddies allow products requiring special handling to retain their looks, instead of having them packaged in bins with traditional vending products. This also avoids unintended damage and a shop worn look for micro market perishables.
Carrying caddies can come in all shapes and sizes depending on the products housed inside. By being separated from other picked-over items, caddies can also minimize the amount of time and effort required to keep micro markets well maintained and visually appealing. Deli products, as Bruno mentioned, are especially strong candidates for carrying caddies due to being among both of the most perishable and most popular items in the micro market.
"Because you may be using more deli type products, transportation is very important to retain product quality and integrity," said Bruno.