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INDUSTRY INSIGHT


Securing vending’s future through diversification


David Llewellyn, chief executive of the AVA, discusses how the vending industry has diversified during the pandemic.


I


n the last year, consumer behaviour has changed considerably as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with all industries needing to adapt and evolve in order to meet new demands and routes of


access. The vending industry is no exception, adapting to cater for new working and retail environments. At the AVA’s recent AGM, Chair, Gillian White, said: “Ultimately, consumers still need and want vending services. Therefore, providing the industry is able to embrace new technologies and reinvent itself for the current landscape, the industry will continue to not only survive, but thrive. “Automated retail is absolutely here for the duration. While no one


knows exactly what the new normal will be for the working environment, we do know that consumers will be out and about once more, and the vending industry will be ready and able to meet the demand when needed.” With offices, leisure centres and hospitality venues closed for


much of the past 18 months, the vending industry has diversified drastically to cater for such sudden and stark changes. In addition to a rise in cashless vending and an increase of micro-markets across the UK, companies have also developed their service offerings by developing own-label products and delivery services.


The rise of cashless vending


Since the arrival of COVID-19, we have seen a rapid acceleration in the adoption of cashless technologies, with coin-based vending machine operators and manufacturers being encouraged to consider integrating cashless solutions to their machines. Despite appearances, vending has always been driven by technological developments. The plain metal box people associate with vending has changed in significant ways over the years, from the addition of screens to provide enhanced product information, to cashless and even contactless technology.


20 | vendinginternational-online.com At present, almost half (47%) of all non-free vending machines


now support cashless payments, which is a 235% increase in the last three years, according to the AVA’s recently released 2020 census. Cashless payments are now also stretching further than just contactless card payments, as payments by smartphone devices have increased by 27% in the last three years. The latest AVA census also revealed that where credit card or cashless systems are fitted, two thirds of sales were cashless, which shows a clear demand for cashless options and in response, the industry has seen a significant growth in cashless-only machines. While discussing how COVID-19 has impacted business


operations, Fiona Chambers, director and owner of SV 24-7 Vending, said: “Over the last year, it has been important to look at this potentially negative situation and instead, treat it as an opportunity to develop our business. We decided to use this time to refresh our equipment and ensure all of our vending machines are fitted with card payment technology. “The future of vending is digital, and it is vital that the vending industry is able to adapt and meet the needs of customers, now and into the future.”


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