SAN DIEGO -- Adam Arthur pursued the micromarket concept early on, but as a small vending operator, he found the existing options cost-prohibitive. Being an enthusiastic hobbyist computer programmer, he decided to write the necessary software and build his own system for use in his own full-line vending operation.
Arthur, owner of San Diego-based Revolution Vending, calls his self-checkout system the Greenbox Deli, and said he soon plans to market it to other operators.
Greenbox Deli customers can pay with cash, or credit, debit and stored-value cards, as well as with funds from a designated account. The system can be adapted to give change upon customer request. The market is monitored 24/7 by Internet-connected security cameras.
After nearly a year of development and testing, the company's first Greenbox Deli installation went on line, and reportedly generated more than $700 per week in revenue at an account with 200 employees.
The total cost of the self-checkout kiosk was less than $1,500, according to Arthur. He used refurbished coolers and low-cost shelving from a local distributor to keep the total investment for his first experimental self-serve convenience store under $3,000.
In designing the Greenbox Deli, Arthur strove for mix-and-match modularity to permit adapting the system to the particular circumstances of each location. Thus, while he envisioned using RFID tags to identify the products in his initial installation, the controller is compatible with a UPC barcode scanner, too.
Similarly, coin and bill acceptance is optional. "If you want to be able to give your customers change, you can install a regular MDB coin mech," Arthur explained. The system can give customers a "cash discount," rounding the total price down to the nearest nickel.
The free server software is run on either an Amazon Cloud or Rackspace Cloud virtual server; the operator has total control over that server. "Financial transactions are run through their own merchant account, and we do not plan to charge any fee, monthly or otherwise," Arthur reported. "For people who want to control what features they pay for, and are leery about monthly fees and having money run through a third party, this is a great setup. They will only pay for their merchant processing fees." In his own operation, he added, the fee is 1.9% plus 5¢ per transaction.
Revolution Vending currently has five Greenbox Delis installed in San Diego, and Arthur said his operation will be opening more soon.
The company plans to offer its micromarket to third-party vending companies beginning in January.