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Issue Date: Vol. 52, No. 2, February 2012, Posted On: 1/25/2012

Cantaloupe's Seed Enterprise Ramps Up Merchandising And Routing Capabilities

Emily Jed
vending, vending machine, vending machine route, Cantaloupe Systems, Cantaloupe Seed, Seed Pro, Seed Enterprise, Anant Agrawal, vending route technology, machine monitoring, vending telemetry, vending operator, vending machine management, vending route scheduler, vending machine menus, vending machine service, planogram

SAN FRANCISCO -- Cantaloupe Systems is rolling out a new platform that includes all the technology available in its flagship Seed Pro product, now enhanced with extra features to help vending operators increase revenue and save time.

Anant Agrawal, Cantaloupe cofounder and chief marketing officer, described the new platform, called Seed Enterprise, as a full-featured product designed with Seed "power users" in mind. "We've taken the most valuable features of Seed Pro and added advanced automation and analytic tools to create the most powerful vending optimization platform on the market," Agrawal said.

The basic Seed program gathers data from vending machines wirelessly over the Internet to help vendors optimize schedules that deliver maximum route and merchandising efficiencies. By analyzing inventory levels, cash in machines and geographic factors, the Web application automatically generates the most efficient delivery schedules and pick lists based on real-time, item-level sales data.

With this information, orders are preloaded by warehouse personnel for each machine, providing drivers with more time to focus on servicing their routes. Also, vending operators have tools to reconcile daily cash collections, and capture spoilage and inventory variances. SeedSync, a customizable integration tool that is part of the Seed Platform, integrates all collected data with existing vending management or other software packages.

A key feature of the new Seed Enterprise is that it eliminates the need to set par levels. Par levels for slow-selling items are automatically reduced to limit spoils, while faster-selling items are assigned par increases to improve service intervals that avoid empty columns. The elimination of par levels quickly reduces field inventory by tens of thousands of dollars for most operators, according to Cantaloupe.

Building upon the single-machine Merchandising Wizard included free with Seed Pro, the new Seed Auto-Merchandiser accelerates "smart" merchandising across large numbers of machines by integrating automated merchandising recommendations into daily route-scheduling workflow. Operators need invest just a few minutes per day to keep many routes' planograms optimized.

The new Seed Routing feature automatically balances the daily workload across drivers on adjacent routes, ensuring less overtime, better truck utilization and more consistent customer service even during spikes in demand.

Also included in Seed Enterprise is the Seed Inventory Scheduler, which automatically adjusts machine inventory frequency, rewarding drivers who take accurate inventories and saving driver time. It also provides multi-branch support by automatically filtering Seed features to one branch; branch personnel only see data they need, while managers can get a cross-branch rollup view.

Coming soon is Seed KPI Dashboards, which allows operators to manage a vending business in real time with instant reporting on business objectives, making comparisons across routes and over time. This feature, which stands for "key performance indicators," is optimized for mobile devices like tablets and big-screen "mission control" monitors, so operators can manage their business from any device.

Like Seed Pro, Seed Enterprise is a cloud-hosted, Web-based application that Cantaloupe plans to improve frequently, with major feature releases four times a year. As with Seed Pro, there's no software to install and no hardware to buy.

Cantaloupe says its Seed remote monitoring technology is currently installed in more than 70,000 vending machines in the U.S. states and Canada.

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