The Automatic Vending Association’s Chief Executive,

Jonathan Hart, talks about the changes in regulations affecting vending as well as the latest innovations and trends that facilities managers need to be aware of.

Vending is an essential retail service in any building due to its ability to provide an unattended, reliable and efficient retail service at any time of the day

for its users. The future of vending in public places and the workplace now points towards much greater product variety, with cashless payment options being far more commonplace. Machines are also displaying a sleeker and more streamlined aesthetic with touch screens, interactive videos and links to social media on offer for users to enjoy.

Increasing labelling legislation means that it’s become more important to provide greater nutritional and allergen information at point of purchase to customers, so machines have needed to adapt to ensure that they can deliver this effectively. When it comes to monitoring machines for service issues and stock levels, we are also seeing an increase in remote monitoring systems, helping to improve responsiveness on service and facilitating the order of new products once levels get too low.

In May last year the Payment Council reported that the use of cash by consumers, businesses and financial organisations fell to 48% of payments last year, with the remaining 52% being made up of electronic transactions. The Payment Council also predict that cash volumes are expected to fall by 30% over the next 10 years.

It’s never been more important for vending machines to offer cashless payment options; to meet consumer demand, keep up with


high street retailers and to also ensure revenues from vending machines remain buoyant and consumers keep using them. Vending’s latest machine models offer a range of cashless payment options, including chip and pin, contactless and payment by mobile.

Consumers are also more health conscious than ever before, with a recent survey proving that 79% of people would opt for a healthy vending snack when given the choice and there are more healthy products in vending machines than ever before.

Consumers want to see greater product choice on offer at the point of purchase, so it’s important to be aware of the latest food and drink trends and ensure that vending machines you are accountable for offer good variety.

Another trend we’re witnessing coming from the US, which is already growing here in the UK, is micro-markets. Mirroring the entire supermarket experience, micro-markets allow consumers to access a full, self-service vending selection of hot and cold food and drinks and as such, can work well in larger office environments. It’s this sort of innovation in vending that demonstrates just how far vending and retail has come, and how vending stakeholders in the UK will soon be able to benefit even further from the power of a self- service retail environment.

A major area of growth for vending has been within the corporate setting. Innovative, new premium coffee products led by some of the sector’s biggest names are taking on the might of the high street, showing the




market how to bring a better quality, more convenient and cost-effective bean-to-cup refreshment solution to the workplace.

Arguably delivering an equal if not surpassed level of consistently high quality coffee to businesses, this new generation of innovatively designed bean-to-cup machines is undoubtedly growing in popularity.

The vending industry’s tireless approach to innovation and evolution means it’s an important unattended retail service that has a strong future ahead.

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