2004 Technology, Diversity & Vending
It has been reported that vending operators adapted more of their vending machines to accept higher denomination currency. The conversion to higher bill acceptance also resulted in purchasing the technology for dollar coin payout. The survey reported that nearly ten percent of all bill validators offered dollar coin payout and nearly twenty-five percent of all vending operators switched from 3-tube coin trays to 4- and 5-tube coin trays. Although investing in higher denomination bill acceptors proved to be beneficial, vending operators also invested in alternative payment options.
In 2004, vending machine operators invested in cashless payment options and many other technologies specifically designed to improve the vending industry's ability to complete against other retail channels. State-of-the-art tools such as DEX handhelds allow vending operators to account faster and more accurately for cash. It also gives vending operators more control over product placement and variety in a location. This has been especially beneficial to vending operators as customer preferences have become more diverse. This diversity in customer preferences have been contributed by the public's higher awareness of nutrition and more diverse customer demographics. In fact, nutritional concerns have become a national issue and have affected the vending industry in several ways over the past year.
Although many school districts imposed restrictions on vendable products in schools, the trend and demand for nutritional vending expanded to other accounts. Many private sector accounts implemented wellness programs that included vending restrictions in order to reduce health care costs. In 2004, vending machine operators also addressed consumer demands for low carbohydrate products reflected the popularity of specialty diets. Vending operators responded to these health and nutrition concerns by placing nutritional products to meet consumer demands and by utilizing sales tracking software to show account managers what products consumers were and were not buying from vending machines. Many vending operators reported that the nutrition issue was an important reason to have the technology in place to trace item sales.
This technology has also been able to offer vending operators insight about customer preferences. From a historical perspective, the vending customer has become more diverse in age, gender, ethnicity, race, occupation, and income. By tracking sales and understanding their client base, vending operators were able to maximize their sales and product selection in 2004.
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