Vending Machine Ireland: How to prepare for the post-pandemic customer
The pandemic has changed customer expectations of convenience services. Once viewed in terms of physical convenience, consumers now expect the entire experience to be convenient for Vending Machine Ireland.
Slowly but surely, as more and more adults in the U.S. and Europe are eligible to receive a vaccine, we will begin to see businesses, schools and transportation services return to pre-pandemic hours of operation. As people return to these spaces, what changes should operators be ready to make?
Almost certainly, it won’t be business as usual. People’s lives and habits have changed a lot over the course of the past year, and in some cases, these changes are here to stay. Vending Machine Ireland Operators must prepare themselves to be flexible in order to thrive.
The traditional meaning of “convenience” itself has broadened. Once viewed in terms of physical convenience (vending machines conveniently located in the lunch room, near the classrooms, in airports, etc.), it’s now the entire experience that consumers expect to be convenient.
Is there an easy way for me to pay for this? Can I purchase this without touching a keypad? Will it be safe? These are the types of things consumers want to know now, and operators need to respond. Operators must give serious attention to technology like mobile payment if they haven’t already.
An easy way for operators to determine their readiness for what’s coming is by reviewing the “4Ps” of marketing: place, product, price and promotion.
Vending Machine Ireland: Place
- Not just the physical location of the machine, but the actual machine itself. One of the more difficult things in route operations is to keep machines clean, and now cleanliness is at the forefront of the consumer’s mind. Even if route drivers wiped down the machine every time they go to service it, that may not be frequent enough for the consumer’s peace of mind. Can the location’s janitorial staff take on cleaning the machines daily? Is there someone else at the location available to wipe it down, perhaps in exchange for a free item a day? Could the machines be moved to a spot where they may not get as dirty? Some creative thinking will go a long way.
- Determine if the location has the right size, number and type of machines. Do you need a fresh food machine added, or is there an underused one that should be taken away? Has the volume at the location changed, and if so, is it more or less? The number of machines should be reevaluated, and restocking frequency will need to be monitored carefully and adjusted as necessary.
Vending Machine Ireland: Product
- Of course if a location had been closed down entirely and now reopened, the operator will likely want to replace all the product with fresh items, making sure the account is aware that that’s been done.
- What people want to eat on the go has changed now, too. Consumers will gravitate toward items that they may be able to eat without touching, especially in transient locations. This will shift sales towards bars (which consumers can eat without touching the product with their fingers by using the wrapper), for example, as opposed to items like chips and crackers (which they usually touch before eating). What used to sell at a location could be different now based on who, and how many people are returning. Keep things looking fresh, and rotate product as necessary to help people trust that your machine is safe for them to return to.
Vending Machine Ireland: Pricing
- Operators should take the opportunity to review pricing, as the cost to service machines has likely increased. The good news is that an operator is providing true convenience, and for a clean and regularly restocked machine, people tend to be less price sensitive.
- It’s also been some time since people have even used vending machines, making any price increase much less noticeable. Cost of goods and cost of servicing has all increased, so be sure your prices are still appropriate given target margins. Visit locations to refresh stock, sanitize the machine and adjust pricing prior to reopening.
Vending Machine Ireland: Promotions
- While it is true that this might be a good time to increase overall pricing to compensate for a higher cost of business, that doesn’t mean discounts, especially pass-through discounts from manufacturers, aren’t also an effective tool. Vending machine purchases are all about ease and impulse. A well-timed discount can help trigger that impulse. Mobile payment enabled machines will make it even easier for operators to offer a discount right as the consumer is ready to use it.
- Technology also helps simplify rewards programs. Many consumers want to support the front-line businesses that supported them through the pandemic. Rewarding that loyalty will go a long way in building repeat customers.
- Another aspect of promotions is simply managing communication between the operator and the location. Operators can keep customers informed about when to expect stocking, what safety and cleanliness measures they’re taking, etc., while the location can keep the operator informed about when people will be returning, whether it will be full-time or a hybrid model, etc.
As people begin to return to school and work, it’s time for vending operators to reevaluate and prepare for their new business as usual. Keeping the 4Ps of marketing in mind will help ensure operators are positioned for success in the post-pandemic landscape.
Article published by Vending Timesof