As the micro market industry continues to grow, manufacturers promulgate their innovative technologies to cater to operators’ needs. This was especially clear at the NAMA Show, held April 24 to 26, 2019, in Las Vegas. The new technologies manufacturers showcased expanded offerings, security and expediency in the micro market industry.
1) Cantaloupe Systems’ Seed Markets™
Seed Markets™, which USA Technologies showcased at its NAMA Show booth following the company’s acquisition of Cantaloupe Systems, is a vending management systems solution that allows operators supreme flexibility and efficiency in micro market management.
Elyssa Steiner, director of marketing at USAT, which announced its acquisition of Cantaloupe Systems in November 2017, said at the NAMA Show that the cloud-based, mobile platform has full integration with all major micro market providers.
Drivers who service micro markets can take all photos for their routes through the Seed Mobile™ app, so they no longer need to switch applications or devices. The technology, which also enables improved route scheduling through Seed Pro™, cuts down the time needed to physically inventory micro markets. It allows drivers to service select sections of micro markets that need special attention instead of needing to service the whole market each time.
2) Theft Detective by Breakroom Provisions
In an effort to stop micro market theft, Breakroom Provisions Company, Inc., debuted Theft Detective at the NAMA Show.
Kevin Galaida, of Breakroom Provisions, provided a walk-through of the technology that simplifies the process of using video footage to determine when a theft occurs at an operator’s client’s company. The tool monitors suspicious behavior, creates an alert and provides a risk score that judges how likely it was that theft occurred in the spotted incident.
The operator can then judge if a theft occurred, write notes in a “case file,” such as pinpointed time stamps. Using the cloud-based space, the operator can explain the proceedings of the incident to the client, emailing the client with just one more mouse-click to complete the quick, efficient process.
3) Smart N Go by Avanti Markets
Avanti Markets displayed its Smart N Go solution that provides a cross between vending and micro markets, which work well for public environments such as airports, museums and train stations, where theft can easily occur. The equipment debuted in October 2018.
Peter Winton, of Avanti Markets, demonstrated how the equipment solution works. Customers can load cash onto an account to purchase items that are encased behind glass doors. They can then use the money on the account to select items. The machine uses infrared sensors to capture the selections in real-time and automatically track and record their movements within the machine. The Avanti Market System enables reporting.
4) Express™ by Avanti Markets
Michael Morrow of Avanti Markets helped demonstrate a micro market concept debuted at the NAMA Show that simply employs a QR code to enable customers to use a micro market in a “grab and go” model.
Instead of purchasing items in a transaction with a cashier, a consumer can choose products from the micro market and exit. By using artificial intelligence such as sensors, Express™ allows for the automatic inclusion of items into the customer’s virtual cart. The technology allows computers to determine the identity of the products that the customer selects from or puts back into the micro market. The customer receives a receipt on his or her phone after the payment processes.
Express™ also allows customers to choose items for other users, who can pick them up from the store in-person.
Avanti Markets employees have compared it to Amazon Go stores – with the benefit of a substantially reduced cost to the operator. With Express™, micro market operators can expand the locations of their markets from solely offices to a variety of locales within their communities.
Morrow said Express™ may be available to operators by the end of 2019.
5) Yoke Payments’ tablet kiosk
Yoke Payments showcased the latest model of its completely cashless point-of-sale terminal at the show.
Ben Thomas, co-founder and vice president of dreams for the company, said the technology equips the operator with real-time communication with back-end operations. This enables tracking of up-to-the-minute inventory and sales information. In addition, since Yoke’s kiosk uses a 6th generation iPad, blind operators can use an accessibility feature of the iPad that enables buttons to be audible as the operator taps on the screen. The payment terminal can be mounted on a wall, table or floor, and it has wi-fi and cellular options.
To begin to buy items in the micro market, a customer scans a product’s barcode or look up the item using the terminal. The customer can then pay with credit card via mobile phone or load funds onto a Yoke account to use for purchases.
Yoke doesn’t take a percentage of the sales the operator makes. Instead, the operator is able to receive the funds directly from the processor. Other sales features include Yoke Tabs, which allows operators to give customers 30 days of credit at the location the operator serves, and a loyalty program in which customers can collect 2 points per dollar spent and 2 points per dollar loaded. Operators can set a points level that customers need to achieve to redeem a market credit for purchases.
Customers can also use the kiosk to submit a ticket request for a refund, report an issue or suggest products for the micro market, directly communicating with the operator.
This kiosk technology allows integration with several major platforms: Cantaloupe, VendSys, VendHQ, Stripe, Heartland, USAT, TriTeq and LightSpeed.
Thomas said Yoke plans to release more features in the future, including a new user interface on both the mobile app and kiosk.
6) 365 PicoMarket by 365 Retail Markets
365 Retail Markets released the 365 PicoMarket, a locking cooler, at its NAMA Show booth. The hardware provides an approach to combating theft that enables operators to have the micro market in a semi-public area. Customers need to provide their identity in order to open the cooler, which provides a barrier to theft, CEO Joe Hessling said. The cooler accepts 365 Global Market Accounts, credit cards and near field communication (NFC) payments. After their identity is confirmed, they simply press an “unlock” button to open the cooler. They can then scan their item selection at the device, Dylan Buckley of 365 Retail Markets said.
The software component of the 365 PicoMarket offers nutritional information and a tailored advertising space. 365 Retail Markets has partnered with Advana, an advertising technology company, for the advertising component. Hessling said operators would be able to acquire the hardware in late summer.
7) Norm Technologies’ locking cooler, by Three Square Markets
Norm Technologies by Three Square Markets showcased a new line of micro market coolers that are designed to maximize the use of space at a minimal upfront investment cost.
The displayed 34” cooler, which has a depth of 32”, is larger by 11 cubic feet than other single door coolers in the market, enabling it to hold an additional 143 20-ounce bottles, according to a flier. The 34” cooler/freezer also has a 32” depth. Both coolers can be equipped with the SmartLock Health Timer, which allows the operator to create a lock schedule that is mobile-friendly and wi-fi capable.
A third cooler advertised is 21” across and 32” deep, and it can hold 190 bottles. The three coolers, which carry a 1-year warranty, become available in August.
8) Three Square Markets’ “The 46” kiosk
Three Square Markets also brought its “The 46” kiosk, which includes a 46-inch touch screen, kiosk camera, built-in shelving for products, headphone jack, UIC Credit/Debit card acceptance including tap2pay, bill acceptor, fingerprint scanner and bar code scanner. Operators can feature advertising displays or information the client wishes to publicize on the screen.