Vending machines have a unique position in retail sales; the frictionless retail experiences, comparable cheap production costs and touchless payment, is driving rapid adoption. Currently Japan is at the forefront, leading with an estimated 5 million vending machines. However, China is catching up quickly and is posed to overtake Japan to become the primary market for vending machines in the next 5 years.
The advantages of vending machines are clear, they enable Consumer Industry companies to provide, to name a few: proximity to consumers, sell 24/7, keep real-time track of stock levels, and understand consumer preferences, and provide cashless payments.
New technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data and Machine Learning, consistently pushing the boundaries of possibilities and enable companies to greatly optimize the benefits of vending machines by focusing on better product offerings, reducing operating costs, and enhancing customer satisfaction.
Let’s have a closer look at some areas where these new technologies integrated with an intelligent enterprise system will help companies get the most of out their vending machines.
Top Selling Products
Analyzes vast amount of Vending Machine Sales Data Patterns emerging from best-selling to least popular products specific to locations, to drive customer satisfaction.
Optimizing Product Assortment
Using Machine Learning to gain insight on factors that drive Products demand and create real-time product mix recommendations for each individual vending machine which can lead to highest profit margin. For example, internal factors such as specific profit margin, product cannibalization and promotions can be combined with external factors such as weather, vending machine location and local events to gain the optimal outcome for a specific vending machine.
Optimizing Clusters of Vending Machines
By analyzing information across multiple individual vending machines in the same vicinity it is possible to optimize the product assortment and replenishment strategy for the entire cluster of vending machines and viewing it as one giant connected vending machine.
New Vending Machine Location Optimization
Using geospatial models combined with analytics and heatmaps to identify the best locations for new vending machine locations based on suitability as well as vicinity to competitive vending machines, train stations, schools, offices as well as points-of-interests, such as museums, parks and sporting arenas.
Reduce Operating Cost
Future demand can be calculated based on historic sales data for specific product or product categories at individual vending machine level or cluster of vending machines. The predicted time when an individual product is likely to go out of stock together with the replenishment schedule will provide information on the recommended optimal quantity for a specific product resulting in reducing the number of replenishment trips needed and reducing stock outs.
Maintaining your vending machine will result in better uptime and reduces the outcalls for emergency and ad-hoc maintenance. Preventive maintenance will help to drive down surprise maintenance costs.
Intelligent Enterprise Integration
Seamlessly integrating specific vending machine processes with an Intelligent Enterprise application that provides world class core business processes is a must. Inventory management, supply chain management, asset management, finance and human resources are all essential end to end business processes needed to ensure agility, efficiency and profitability of your vending machine business.
What will the Future bring?
It is inevitable that vending machines will be an integral part of the future of retail sales. Their proximity to consumers, convenient 24/7 operations, and touchless payments provide a unique value proposition. Most of all, vending machines need to be “smart” and seamlessly integrated to the Intelligent Enterprise.
For a more in-depth discussion on how SAP can help you getting the best from your vending machines, feel free to reach out to me.