365 Retail Markets launched its SmartHub Gen II solution with 35-plus new capabilities and features at the NAMA OneShow this year, taking the Gold award in the Kiosk category for the second year in a row. The company’s primary MicroMarket solution, known as the 365SmartShop, is designed to target the corporate office, hotel and manufacturing facilities among other corporate locations, where vending machines provide quick food and drink options for employees. A format similar to an open shelved, convenience store format with a point of sale system provided by the company, the new vending concept allows for the opportunity to sell fresh products helping boost sales in this vending channel, explains 365 Retail Market’s COO Mat Caston. Caston says overall, vending operators have seen an increase in sales from an average of $20,000 in sales a year to as much as $45,000 to $60,000 in sales.
“In this particular segment, we are the exclusive technology provider to the largest vending and food service company in the world, Compass Group,” says Caston. “When you look at the gross volume of beverages that go through the vending channel every year, being able to even demonstrate that MicroMarkets could generate a 1 percent, 2 percent or 3 percent uplift is a significant unit increase and significant dollar increase for the suppliers.”
Beverage companies such as Coca-Cola, Kraft and General Mills have been working with the system, Caston says.
“Pepsi or Coca-Cola has a number of specialty beverages or non-vending compatible packaging for beverages, for example, that they are now able to put those in this MicroMarket channel,” says Caston, adding that milk is among the top beverage sellers.
The new SmartHubs are smaller in design, mountable to countertops or walls, and allow operators to customize both the exterior skin and the touchscreen software with their own branded look and feel. Additional features include web-based 24-hour surveillance that enables operators to access live help and enhanced fingerprint capability where consumers can use their fingerprint as an identifier linked with an account for purchasing items. Another is promotional capabilities for companies that can offer consumers rebates or rewards for purchasing good-for-you items.
The proprietary SmartHQ system provides operators with direct access to SmartSecurity footage, plus an array of backend benefits, including sales reports, inventory reports, and a host of customizable reporting options that help operators work smarter. “We are very data focused,” says Caston. “We have an extensive data warehouse that we can use to help companies better understand buying habits and trends and what is selling in MicroMarkets versus other formats like vending or C-stores for example.”
Editor's Note: This is an extension of the article "Vending for the Future" in the Beverage Retailing section of August 15, 2012 issue of Beverage World.