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.