At Automatic Retailing, we can do a lot more for our customers than just fulfil their orders. We can help them to turn ‘problems’ into ‘opportunities’ and ‘opportunities’ into ‘gilt-edged commercial advantages’.
Let me explain by looking at two topics that are hot potatoes for vending operators right now – the potential that’s incumbent in the digital age and the forthcoming Sugar Tax.
At the risk of you falling off your seat when you read this, I reckon digital screens on vending machines are just about the most important development we’ve seen in our sector since Adam was a lad. I know that’s rich coming from a bloke who, until recently, didn’t know his WhatsApp from his elbow, but think about it: until now, when were vending operators able to communicate with, (or advertise to), their customers, right there at point of sale?
OK, we’ve had promotional decals on machines for donkey’s years; but screens that can broadcast video in sparkling HD? That’s something altogether new and exciting. Having this capacity to advertise at point of sale isn’t just a huge plus for operators; it’s brilliant for the brand owners, too. That’s why many Big Names in FMCG are choosing to test new products in the vending channel. It’s very, very cost effective, compared with the old ways of doing things.
Years ago, when a Big Name was launching something new, they’d choose a TV region such as Granada, Yorkshire or Tyne-Tees; they’d run an advertising campaign and (to show retailers how serious they were), they’d advertise in The Grocer, extrapolating their regional investment into what was called a ‘national equivalent spend.’ (Usually in the millions). If the test launch was a success, they’d follow it up with a national roll-out of the product.
They don’t have to do it that way any longer. Alternatively, they can choose to test the waters nationally, via vending machines. Instead of mega-expensive TV air-time, they can run their glossy commercials right there, on your screens; in front of hungry (or thirsty) customers who are ready to make an on-the-spot purchase.
It’s not just advertising either: the ‘digital revolution’ has enabled some canny operators to introduce dedicated apps and loyalty programmes, to attract new, tech-savvy vending customers and what’s more, to keep them. I think that’s brilliant.
Some operators are ahead of the game, others have their toes in the water; the rest are playing catch-up. Whichever category you fall in to, we’re in pole position to help you make the most of the opportunities the digital era brings. That’s because we have very close relationships with both the brands and you, our customer. For want of a better expression, we can act as ‘match-makers’.
As for the Sugar Tax, which comes into force on 18th April next year, I can tell you from my meetings up and down the country that it’s a major worry for lots of vending operators. They don’t really know how the levy will impact on their sales or their profitability.
Once again, we’re in pole position to help you navigate into this New World. We’ve been working very closely with UK’s leading drinks manufacturers, both to understand what the impact of the tax will be and to get a clear picture of the new-wave of products that are being introduced to counter it.
Now’s the time to be testing these new products. You don’t have to wait until the levy lands: why not begin to introduce them now; get them established before the tax axe falls? We’re ‘in the know’, we have the knowledge to advise you as you plan your strategy.
All things considered, it means that these are very busy times for all of us at Automatic Retailing. Me and the lads are pulling out all the stops to get round our customers, so we can advise them on what’s hot and what’s not; and reassure them that, despite the changes, this is not the end of vending as we know it!
I know it sounds glib because you hear it said so often, but we really do see Automatic Retailing as a partner of our customers, not just a supplier to them. And why not? After all, if our customers are doing well, we’re doing well.
Thanks for reading, and think-on: if there’s anything we can help you with, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us on 0191 238 0400.
Meanwhile, back to work…