Seaga Vending Celebrates 25th Year

This year is our 25th Anniversary in business for Seaga, and we would love to thank our loyal customers for two and a half decades of support. In celebration of this event we will be releasing the Seaga 25 Series, offering insight into the vending business of use to any operator. This is just one of the great events we have planned for the year; stay tuned!

Today, we would like to share with you the top 25 most vended snacks (in no particular order) of 2011, according to the Automatic Merchandiser’s State of Vending Report 2011:

Snickers Original 2 oz.
M&M’s Peanut 1.74 oz.
Twix Bar 2 oz.
Ruffles Cheddar & Sour Cream 1.5 oz.
Doritos Nacho Cheesier 1.75 oz.
Lay’s Chips 1.5 oz.
Cheetos Crunchy 1.125 oz.
Three Musketeers 2.13 oz.
Poptarts Frosted Strawberry 3.6 oz.
Rice Krispies Treat 1.7 oz.
Kraft Nabisco Planters Peanuts 1 oz.
Famous Amos Chocolate Chip Cookies 2 oz
Cheez-It Original 1.5 oz.
Cheetos Crunchy 2.125 oz.
Skittles 2.17 oz.
M&M’s Milk Chocolate 1.69 oz.
Butterfinger 2.1 oz.
TGI Friday’s Cheddar & Bacon Potato Skins 1.75 oz.
Cheez-It Original 2 oz.
Fritos Chili Cheese 2.25 oz.
Grandma’s Peanut Butter Cookie 2.75 oz.
Cloverhill Big Texas Cinnamon Roll 4 oz.
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups 1.5 oz.
Kraft Nabisco Oreo Cookies1.8 oz.
General Mills Traditional Chex Mix 1.75 oz.
*Source: Automatic Merchandiser State of the Vending Industry Report 2011

Many of the 25 have been a staple of vended product for many years, and while all of those snacks sound incredibly appetizing, are there any surprises? Which one is your favorite?
Of course, the hot topic in vending these days is health as related to the vended product. With this in mind, we’ve created a list of 25 snacks that meet the 35-10-35 nutitional standards of not more than 35% fat, not more than 10% saturated fat and not more than 35% sugar and thus are considered healthy; or at least not too bad for you as snacking goes:

Biscomerica Ginger Snaps, 2.125 oz.
Welch’s Dried Fruit Reduced Sugar 1.5 oz.
Stacy’s Simply Naked Pita Chips 1.5 oz.
Snyder’s Mini Pretzels 1.5 oz
Quaker Snack Mix 1.75 oz
Popcorn, Indiana Gourmet Kettlecorn 1.25 oz.
O’Brien honey cured turkey stick 1 oz.
Mrs.; Freshley’s 100 Calorie Pack Blueberry Muffins 1.3 oz.
Mars, Inc. Snickers Cookies 1.15 oz.
Nabisco Wheat Thins 1.75 oz.
Corn nuts, multiple flavors, 1.4 oz.
Kraft Cheese Nips 100 Calorie Packs .74 oz.
Pop Tarts Frosted Strawberry 1 pastry pack 1.3 oz.
Kellogg’s Special K Snack Bites .81 oz.
Jack Links, multiple flavors, .8 to 1 oz.
Herr Foods Honey Wheat Pretzels 1 oz.
Chex Mix, multiple flavors 1.75 oz.
Rold Gold Classic Pretzel Thins 2 oz.
Gardetto’s Snak-Ens Reduced Fat Original 1.65 oz.
Dorito’s Cooler Ranch .75 oz.
Grandma’s Big Oatmeal Raisin Cookie 2.75 oz.
Baked Lays, multiple flavors .875 to 1.125 oz.
Baked Ruffles, cheddar & sour cream 1.125 oz.
Farley’s & Sathers reduced sugar mixed fruit snacks 2 oz.
Clif Bar, multiple flavors, .7 to 1.27 oz.

Source: NAMA

This list of 25 certainly demonstrates a trend across the vending industry. There have been recent announcements by snack suppliers to reduce portion size and, therefore, calorie count among other initiatives. Vending operators now have multiple ways to enhance the lives of their everyday clientele in a more nutritious way and create a mutually beneficial relationship with their locations.

Don’t miss the next Seaga25, in which we will advise you the 25 recommended tools to bring on location. Follow the Twitter chatter with Seaga’s deals, promotions, and events? Just use the #Seaga25 hashtag!

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5 Quick Tips In Vending Machine Care

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Like a finely tuned vehicle requires occassional care to maintain peak preformance, and your vending machine is just such a vehicle! It is one which your vending business uses to prosper, thrive, and provide you with financial independence. Many people, even experienced vending operators, but especially new operators can overlook the importance of routine maintence to insure they are getting the most out of their vending machine. With proper care a vending machine can earn profit well into a second decade, further increasing your return on investment.
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Running Out of Product—The Good Complaint

Oftentimes vending operators find that in establishing a feel for a new location they should experiment with different products insuring that their machines are both maximizing profit and customer satisfaction. However, how should you counter complaints for this scenario? An uneducated location owner might feel that your service is lacking, as opposed to understanding that you are fine-tuning to find the best possible product array for a long-term successful business relationship.

One very effective counter, depending on if the location is commissioned or charity, is to mention how better understanding which products sell best will increase the owner’s commission. This will probably end most of the complaints if the real issue at hand is running out of product. If they still have an issue then you know that the true complaint was not the one they brought to you.

For charity locations the answer becomes invariably more difficult. If the location did not care enough to ask for commission, most of the time they will not bother you for a product shortage. If they do, responding that providing the best service is high on your priorities and you are tweaking your product array is a good way to go. Otherwise this will also enable you to discern if it is truly the problem again, as perhaps they are now not into the charity idea and want their cut, or perhaps another operator is attempting to steal the location and offered them commission.

A more proactive solution may be that you bundle the last item in a row with your contact information, whether it be via phone or email, and offer a brief explaination as to how their contacting you to let you know that a given product is sold out increases the value they get from the convience of a vending machine. This would be especially useful in an office building or at a university where people have easy access to contact you via email, or if you have a business telephone line anyone can reach you with a simple cell phone call.

In either case, insuring the owner that you are there to provide the best possible service, and offering the reasoning for your product will satisfy their needs, especially if they understand how it benefits their bottom-line as well as yours, and the satisfaction of the customer.

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Dynamic Duos, A Vending Manufacturer’s Query!

Throughout time mightily matched mates have left legacies, such as: bread and butter, Abbott and Costello, Barney and Thelma, and Mario and Luigi! What do you think are the best? Vending duos are no different from drink and beverage machines to changers and mechanical machines. What other great duos can you think of? Feel free to let us know what you think is at the top of the list, and why… Simply comment below, tweet us, or if you already see it in the poll help it beat the others out! We’ll let you know who we think is the best at The One Show at McCormick Place this next weekend, be sure to stop by Seaga’s booth (number 842) to find out!

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Rising Prices Surely Affect Vending

With increasing fuel prices due to unrest in the Middle East and developing countries straining supply, other political factors have influenced the price of cocoa and sugar leading to several well known chocolatiers such as Hershey’s to announce an increase in prices. These announcements will surely leave many vending operators in a predicament. Will they attempt to absorb the price hikes, completely pass them off to their customers, or attempt to find a middle ground in an effort to maintain margin while mitigate sticker shock?

As these rising fuel costs, proposed regulations, and increased commodities prices further burden our industry, it will become increasingly important to turn to more efficient vending technology in an effort to offset these costs. Certainly passing some of the cost on to the consumer is a reality, but already many vending operators battle sticker shock, although the exact same product might be sold at a local gas station for an even higher cost.

There are a plethora of factor involved, but points to consider are will the convenience offered by a vending machine be able to off-set these rising prices? Are there limits to what you can charge as the only vendor at a given location, and how high are these limits? How understanding are locations in regards to a reduction in the overall quantity of commission even though percentage wise they are the same?

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FDA Proposes New Vending Regulations

Two tentative regulations were proposed by the FDA regarding caloric labels on menus and menu boards in chain restaurants, retail food establishments, and most importantly to us– vending machines. Luckily, they are still tentative and the FDA is open to receiving comments on these proposed policies. The document can be read in full here.

The Regulatory Run-down

Vending operators with more than twenty machines will have to display nutritional information for their products via adjacent signage, unless their packaging prominently displays the nutritional information already. The FDA has tentatively concluded that bulk vending machines without any type of selection button are not covered by the proposed policy, leaving crank operated gumball machines to be unregulated by these rules. Vending machines that do not vend a majority of food items, such as crane vending machines, are also safe from this new regiment of requirements.

Act Now

By commenting on this proposed piece of legislation, we can band together to save the vending industry from being saddled with yet another bit of inefficiency in an industry that struggles against unstable fuel costs and other inherent problems that can be a death blow to small businesses which are the backbone of the American economy. In these days of engorged government spending, this is but one more example of wasted government funds, and if this passes they are wasting the funds of vending operators everywhere.

To submit your comments to the docket via mail, use the following address:

The Division of Dockets Management
Food and Drug Administration
5630 Fishers Lane, Room 1061
Rockville, MD 20852

Or via email at

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NAMA – A Real Boon to the Up and Coming Vendor

Have you joined? National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA) that is – Oftentimes the extraordinary benefits of NAMA are overlooked by the newbies of vending. At a few hundred dollars per year for membership, many suffer from immediate sticker-shock. However, the rewards can pay for themselves in months.

NAMA membership offers savings on a plethora of things that are the lifeblood to a fledgling business such as shipping discounts(FedEx) , maintenance (Meineke), insurance(Allstate), and fuel ( Exxon Mobil and Shell). They also offer tools for long-term growth, as you can save a few thousand on education and training, surveys and reports, marketing, and legal advice.

Most importantly, you would be supporting your industry. The vending industry tends to be heavily regulated, and dominated by small businesses. NAMA offers us a single banner to rally under, especially as many of us small business owners do not have time to lobby our government leaders on behalf of our businesses! We are too busy waking up well before the rest of the world rises, to insure a humming vending machine is there to greet any who may need our oases.
NAMA does fight for us– they are your industry advocate. Your support means everything and everything they do in return supports our industry. Will we see you in Chicago atThe OneShow April 27-29?

What are your thoughts on NAMA and if you are not a member, why not?

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Cashless Vending and The Average Operator

The future of vending, and the advancement of cashless technology become ever more intertwined with a growing consumer base desiring the ability to purchase their vended products on the fly with a quick and easy swipe of the card. As larger operators eye this shift, smaller operators face the tough choice of adapting or capitalizing on a more traditional cash-driven consumer base. When making this decision there are a multitude of variables in your particular situation, and we will address some of them today.

Now and Later, Now or Later?

As has been demonstrated throughout the history of technology, early adapters face both great risk and rewards. The first thing to consider in your effort to make this decision is what is your market? Are they more traditional, or are they themselves early adapters? The former type of market segment might allow you to wait until the price of newer technologies start to decline, the latter may require you to carefully weigh if you will lose presence and market share by not adapting. Many operators own a variety of locations all servicing unique market segments. Understanding how each market segment views these changes can give you an advantage in your strategy into this decade.

The Law of Technological Advancement

Moore’s Law, first predicted in a 1965 paper by Gordon E. Moore (a co-founder of Intel), states that technological growth will double approximately every two years. This model is predicted to hold true until 2015, and you might be wondering, what does this have to do with vending? Technology advances so quickly, that now pricy and advanced technology will quickly no-longer be top-of-the-line. This means that the price of such technology would also decrease, and therefore in two years will become much more reasonable (and still quite functional). Hence, in those market segments that do not require advanced vending technologies for you to stay competitive in, the wait for a more affordable solution will not be long. However the first mover advantage where these technologies will be well received should not be underplayed in importance.

Where this leaves the average vending operator largely depends on his geo-cultural location, financing capabilities, and vision for his company. In chiche culturally diverse populations centers, there is a serious opportunity for the operator willing to take a well-calculated risk and capitalize on his technology seeking market. Understanding how to mitigate your risk in making an investment in your future is certainly not something you need worry will be replaced in the future.

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Negotiating Vending Locations

The ability to negotiate for a vending location is perhaps one of the most valuable skills a small operator can have. Identifying and securing new locations is how you start and expand your business and maintain success.
Step One – Identifying Target Locations

The keys to spotting locations that are vulnerable are simple. First, look for locations that have machines that appear in need of service. These neglected locations would possibly benefit and thrive from an attentive operating company taking over the service. Another location that can be capitalized on is the one that is underserviced by either the machine type or selection offering. While this scenario is rarer, occasionally they will pop up due to a change in foot-traffic or in the climate of the locale itself. Business locations usually contract their location out, but observing how these locations are serviced can give you insight on if it is worth it to attempt to snatch these up.
Step Two – Speaking With the Location Owner
When negotiating to gain a new location it is always very important to have a well-laid out plan of how you can better serve the needs of that site. Having done your homework during the identifying stage, you can address personalized issues that will establish your credibility and professionalism. Offering a trial period to test your ability to service their location is a great way to show them that you are in it for the long haul, and showcase reasons your service is the better fit for their location.

Step Three – Follow Through

Once a location has been established, remember to continue to foster the relationship that you have with your location-holder. Oftentimes when using a locator service vending operators forget how important it is to maintain that business relationship. Many operators also undervalue the continuing need to understand the dynamics of a location. Doing this can serve to establish yourself in at that site, bring better services to your customers, and as a result cause them to purchase your products more often. Remember that different seasons and times of the year may bring in a wildly different demographic depending upon the location.

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Implementing Customer Loyalty In The Impulsive Vending Market

Fostering customer loyalty within the vending industry is no small task, but with the growth of present day innovations it is no longer a whimsical fancy either.  Many programmable vending machines offer product packages such as meal deals, or giveaway vends.  As cashless vending becomes more accessible so too will advancements in customer loyalty programs within vending as customers are more readily identifiable.  When asking yourself if you can benefit from implementing a loyalty program there are several facets that must be weighed into the situation.

Who are your prime market in the location you are considering?

If that location is at an office, you are more than likely the only option at that particular site, and therefore the costs and time to implement customer loyalty, when your customers are already loyal by necessity makes it a rather inefficient endeavor.  Another location might have a high foot-traffic rate, such as a rest stop on a freeway, but how realistic is it that any given customer would return to that location?  Unless you are willing to invest in a large, expensive infrastructure to keep a database of customers across all locations, that all of your machines can access this is also rather inefficient, except for one scenario.  If you can build the buzz that any of your particular machines may reward a customer, then that might serve to build some customer loyalty, but convenience will still be king.

The perfect place for customer loyalty:

The location that is prime for the use of customer loyalty has a relatively recurring market, and you are not the only vendor at that location.  For example, a college campus where the student body is generally always returning, depends on vending machines at odd times, and there are likely to be several competitors across your locations.  Here offering meal deals or vending lotteries can give you a competitive advantage over your customers, have relatively small upkeep costs, and require little upkeep (merely changing it so that the system is not figured out).

Checkout our customer loyalty programming built into SeagaSmartware!

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