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Let's Get It Right The First Time: Vending And Digital Advertising
Issue: Vol. 55, No. 10, October 2015
As touchscreen interfaces proliferate on networked vending machines, the age-old dream of using vending machines as advertising media has reawakened. This time, it very well may work, but it will need to be seen in context and implemented in ways that customers will find at least useful and at best, enjoyable... by Tim Sanford
Author: Tim Sanford

'I Can Do That,' But Should You?
Issue: Vol. 55, No. 9, September 2015
A question that continually arises in this (and many other) industries is whether a new kind of enterprise is compatible with vending, coffee service, contract foodservice or music and amusements... by Tim Sanford
Author: Tim Sanford

By The People, For The People
Issue: Vol. 55, No. 8, August 2015
We recently took part in the National Automatic Merchandising Association's first "Fly-In" in Washington, DC. The experience led us to reflect on the current impatience with contemporary politics that sometimes seems to dominate news and opinion forums... by Tim Sanford
Author: Tim Sanford

We Did It Before And We Can Do It Again
Issue: Vol. 55, No. 6, June 2015
Much has been written about the opportunities to interact more closely with patrons offered by new technology. That surely is worth doing, and we think it is best done in conjunction with the proven customer-relations techniques developed by the vending industry on its five-decade journey from a novelty to the retailing mainstream... by Tim Sanford
Author: Tim Sanford

Let's Go On With The Show
Issue: Vol. 55, No. 5, May 2015
We were very pleased by this year's National Automatic Merchandising Association annual trade show, now called OneShow. The presence of 75 first-time exhibitors suggests that the workplace refreshments industry is attracting attention once again. That is a very positive development, fueled by the growing recognition that vending machines -- and micromarkets -- are excellent media for interacting with the public, and also have moved into the vanguard of the Internet of Things... by Tim Sanford
Author: Tim Sanford

Collecting The Dividend
Issue: Vol. 55, No. 4, April 2015
It might be worthwhile to assemble a history of engineering concepts which did not catch on when first applied to existing technology, but became triumphantly successful when the state of the art advanced or the market changed. Vending offers many examples of this... by Tim Sanford
Author: Tim Sanford

Adding A Dimension To Product Variety In Vending
Issue: Vol. 55, No. 3, March 2015
For as long as I can remember, product pricing has been a vexed topic in vending. The dramatic expansion of the vending industry began about six decades ago in an economy that was largely free from inflation (in 1955, the rate of inflation was around 0.4%) and the prices for items that could be sold through the vending machines of the day varied little from year to year... by Tim Sanford
Author: Tim Sanford

Return Of The Powerhouse
Issue: Vol. 55, No. 2, February 2015
The full-line vending industry spent more than four decades perfecting the "full-house" single-cup fresh brew coffee machine and adapting it to customer preferences. The time has come to look at new ways to use it... by Tim Sanford
Author: Tim Sanford

The Business(es) We're In
Issue: Vol. 55, No. 1, January 2015
People were running vending machines, delivering coffee to offices in convenient formats and operating coin-actuated amusement equipment before there ever was a vending, a coffee service or a music and games industry The pioneers in all these fields looked at an invention -- basically a pro­cess for delivering a product or service -- and envisioned potential markets for it... by Tim Sanford
Author: Tim Sanford

New Year's Resolutions
Issue: Vol. 54, No. 12, December 2014
The arrival of a new year, and the departure of the old one, is a suitable occasion for reviewing the things we've done and those we haven't, with a view toward doing more of the ones that worked, and avoiding recurrent mistakes. With that in mind, we suggest the following.... by Tim Sanford
Author: Tim Sanford

Micromarkets: Déjà Vu All Over Again
Issue: Vol. 54, No. 11, November 2014
The industry conversation about micromarkets is addressing the questions that the new segment will need to answer if it is to develop into a durable and expanding segment of the retailing business... by Tim Sanford
Author: Tim Sanford

The Tide Turns For ACE, And Vending
Issue: Vol. 54, No. 10, October 2014
We've just returned from the 2014 Atlantic Coast Exposition, the 60th annual presentation of an event whose history parallels that of the modern vending industry... by Tim Sanford
Author: Tim Sanford

The Most Valuable Asset
Issue: Vol. 54, No. 9, September 2014
The rapid growth of the full-line vending industry generally is attributed to the development of hot and cold beverage machines that prepared and delivered high-quality, high-margin coffee and soft drinks quickly at any hour of the day or night, seven days a week. Forward-looking machine manufacturers, imaginative foodservice professionals and pioneering operators recognized the importance of merchandising to overcome patrons' reluctance to buy fresh food from an unattended point of sale... by Tim Sanford
Author: Tim Sanford

When Less Is More
Issue: Vol. 54, No. 8, August 2014
The first practical and widely used vending machines sold gum, often in the guise of "sales stimulators" that allowed patrons to purchase a sample of something for a penny to help them decide whether to buy a quarter-pound of it. The vending machine since has proven to be a very effective tool for getting consumers to try something new before incurring the expense of a major retail rollout... by Tim Sanford
Author: Tim Sanford

Market Research As A Byproduct
Issue: Vol. 54, No. 6, June 2014
Digital imaging and pattern recognition technology at the vending machine can be put to good use by tackling the age-old problem of finding out just what a vending patron does when approaching a machine... by Tim Sanford
Author: Tim Sanford

We Need To Talk, And Listen
Issue: Vol. 54, No. 5, May 2014
We recently received an inquiry from an operator who asked whether the new touchscreen customer interfaces for vending machines can be equipped to recognize spoken questions and commands... Tim Sanford
Author: Tim Sanford

Perils Of Infighting Outweigh The Fun
Issue: Vol. 54, No. 4, April 2014
Several recent news items illustrate a point that we've been making for some time now. A couple of months ago, the well-known discount pharmacy chain CVS announced that it will discontinue selling tobacco products this fall... Tim Sanford
Author: Tim Sanford

Getting Serious About Career Training
Issue: Vol. 54, No. 3, March 2014
Everyone from President Obama on down is promoting technology as the key to America's future prosperity, and it's hard to disagree with that. What usually is overlooked in the public conversation about technology is that inventing and manufacturing wonderful new things is a very worthwhile endeavor -- but somebody has to know how those things work, and how to repair them when they don't | Tim Sanford
Author: Tim Sanford

The Smallest Locations Drink Coffee, Too
Issue: Vol. 54, No. 2, February 2014
The first coffee service operators succeeded by focusing on underserved small locations. That segment still is underserved, and still wants coffee Tim Sanford
Author: Tim Sanford

Turning Consumers Into Customers
Issue: Vol. 54, No. 1, January 2014
A customer is always right; a consumer is always looking for the lowest price | Tim Sanford
Author: Tim Sanford

On The Air
Issue: Vol. 53, No. 12, December 2013
The approach of a new year always brings with it reflections on the past and hopes for the future. There is a good deal to reflect on, as 2013 draws to a close. For example, the implications of the revolution in wireless communications are beginning to sink in... by Tim Sanford
Author: Tim Sanford

This Is Where It Starts To Get Interesting
Issue: Vol. 53, No. 11, November 2013
Most technologies progress through spurts of innovation followed by lulls for assimilation. During the lulls, people who use the new generation of products begin with the features that resemble those of the previous generation -- their processes are set up for those features -- and then begin to explore the possibilities made possible by the new functions. During these periods, there may not be much novelty on display at trade shows, but there is a lot going on... by Tim Sanford
Author: Tim Sanford

Imagine If The President Were A Vending Operator
Issue: Vol. 53, No. 10, October 2013
As we consider the present situation in Washington, and the country as a whole, we vividly recall a speech made four decades ago by NAMA chairman Benjamin Montee: "Imagine that you woke up one morning and found that the President of the United States was a vending operator," he said. "And you found that the Vice President, the Senate majority leader and the Speaker of the House of Representatives also were vending operators. Wouldn't you stop and think, 'These vending operators are taking over the world?' Now, substitute 'lawyer' for 'vending operator'..." by Tim Sanford
Author: Tim Sanford

Hanging Together
Issue: Vol. 53, No. 9, September 2013
Around the turn of the millennium, we offered our opinion that a rather long era of legislative and regulatory tranquility was ending. But the assault has been renewed, but not in the manner we expected... by Tim Sanford
Author: Tim Sanford

Is 'Better For You' A Category?
Issue: Vol. 53, No. 8, August 2013
Over the years, a number of astute industry observers have warned operators that they are losing sales by declining to put items on their menus that they consider "fads." Even supposing the skeptics to be correct and the item falls out of favor after six months, somebody can be selling a whole lot of it in the meanwhile... by Tim Sanford
Author: Tim Sanford

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