Espresso coffee, pizzas, iPads! Coming soon to a vending machine near you
Fri, 04 Oct 2013 22:28:26 GMT —
Change is in the air at the Atlantic Coast Exposition in Myrtle Beach, the vending industry convention for the Carolinas and Virginia.
And that's not just the change you put in a machine.
Industry leaders attending the expo say there are new items available by vending machines these days, from espresso coffee to personal pizzas. The food items go beyond the usual fatty chips or snack cakes.
"There's certainly a lot more emphasis on the healthy eating and wellness emphasis. People are looking for those choices more and more now," said Gaye Tankersley, the exposition's chairperson.
Experts say change in the vending industry is being driven by a tech-savvy generation that wants everything fast and efficient. That goes for more than just food.
"You can find Best Buy kiosks in a number of places that are selling iPads and stuff like that. So the world is blending, the young people are going to lead us," said Paul Schlossberg, a food service industry consultant.
Also new in the industry is the micro market, sort of a self-service convenience store.
Instead of paying for each item at each machine, at the micro market you collect all your items, take them to the payment kiosk, scan and pay.
If you're a regular customer at the micro market, you don't need a debit card and you don't even need a smart phone. All you really need is your thumb, though to use that option you will have to set up an account beforehand.
The advantages of micro markets are obvious.
"Being able to hold the product in your hand, fresh food, oversized items," said Alex Hawkins of 365 Retail Markets.
So with all these iPhone readers and card scanners in the vending industry, is there still a place for humans?
"Do I think we'll move away from people? I don't think so because these vending machines don't talk to you and we're still in the service business," Tankersley said.
So, good news, human sales clerks. You're not obsolete - yet.