A tripod keeps a camera focused on what matters most. What makes it effective?
It has 3 legs.
Much like a tripod, a smart vending solution needs 3 legs to help you focus on what matters most: selling your fresh food 24/7. Below, I discuss the 3 legs of the “Smart Vending Tripod” – App, Fridge, and Dashboard – and how they work together to empower foodservice operations like yours around the world.
A consumer app not only allows your customers to find your smart vending locations, but it instills confidence as they purchase restaurant-quality food from a vending machine. This builds on the confidence they gain from being able to open a smart fridge and explore the products as they please, a crucial feature we considered in inventing the FoodSpot smart fridge.
The app also offers more touchpoints with your customers. When they want their favorite salad from your menu, they check the app to see if it’s stocked in your smart vending location near them. You can also nudge them when their favorites are available. When you want to push items at risk of expiring, you can message them a promotion. When you want to reward them on their birthday, you can gift it to them through the app. As consumers create accounts on your app, demographics like age and gender offer you the insight you need to further tailor your marketing.
And what about customer feedback? With an app, there is virtually no time between when the customer sees that sushi roll on their phone to when they have it in their mouth. Because this experience is driven by one tool – the app – it is natural for you to elicit feedback through the app as they purchase and eat it. No friction from having to visit a different website, no time to get distracted while they wait for delivery, and no discomfort of having to give verbal feedback to you in person.
A branded app experience instills confidence in your customers and engages them throughout the buying process, making it a crucial leg of your smart vending tripod.
There are different smart vending solutions for different applications. As you research the hardware leg of your smart vending tripod, consider the following.
- Choose the best hardware for your objective, whether it is selling convenience store food, manufactured fresh food (Walmart salads), or restaurant-quality food. Hardware should offer full visibility on inventory and individual expirations (see Comparing Smart Vending Technologies & Selecting the Right Smart Fridge Manufacturer)
- Make sure the hardware can sell 24/7 securely, eliminating the reliance on the honor system. A small mobile footprint is nice for adaptability and experimenting with the locations (see Reimagining Food Vending & Micromarkets vs. Smart Fridges).
- Ensure it is designed to represent your brand, attract your customers, and achieve a high ROI. (see Designing Your Microstore & ROI)
The dashboard leg is the lifeblood of your smart vending operation.
Is the fridge locked? What’s the temperature inside? How many Caesar salads were stocked last Tuesday and by whom? When do they expire? Which item sold the most in January?
The answers to each of these questions can be found in the dashboard. Here are just a few of the data points a dashboard should provide:
- Total Sales
- Transaction Details
- Individual Item Expirations
- Average Basket Size
- Best Selling Items
- Top Expired Items
- Diagnostics (temperature and status of the unit)
- Live Inventory
- Employee Stock-up Log
When you are stabilized by a smart vending tripod, you can focus on what matters most. Below, I list some of the goals that our operators at FoodSpot focus on:
- Increase same-store sales
- Establish food security and food equity on college campuses
- Provide 24/7 fresh food for their hospital staff or employees
- Introduce a killer amenity in their lobby
- Open a microstore for their online brand