In March National Vending team ventured out to sunny Las Vegas for the annual NAMA Show, a four day conference hosted by the National Automatic Merchandising Association for convenience service professionals. The NAMA show not only offers a place for the convenience industry’s biggest names to showcase new products but is also a place for industry players to learn about upcoming trends in the world of vending, office coffee and micro markets.
Talk of Technology
While walking the show floor, we couldn’t help but notice the amount of technology advances! From cashless payment services and telemetry, to changes in vending machines and vending products, the world of vending is advancing beyond basic refreshments and snacks.
More machines are adding a cashless payment system, but the advances don’t stop at credit card readers. Mobile apps and the ability to pay for items using your phone is a trend on the rise.
Micro Markets going MICRO
We also noticed advances in the world of micro markets. New nano markets offer the same convenience of a micro market but are better suited for those businesses or organizations with less than 250 people. Nano markets are simple and easy to use considering purchases can be made directly from the consumer’s phone or a small countertop kiosk.
Nutrition and Wellness
One of the underlying trends in vending, micro markets and pantry services is nutrition and wellness. These items are being requested by customers at a high rate and the demand will continue to rise. While most vendors have expanded healthy selections, those who make more of an effort to meet this demand will see an even greater increase in consumption.
One of the biggest advantages to attending the NAMA Show is the educational classes exhibitors and attendees can experience. We had the pleasure of attending quite a few different classes over a variety of topics. One thing each class mentioned was how we need to be more receptive to change and look for ways to be more innovative in our industry. The educational classes are also a great way to meet with experienced industry leaders.
Evolving and Changing
When it comes to vending machine products, we have to consider the convenience people are looking for, the products people need and how vending machines can bridge the gap. Thinking outside the box with the products we vend and the way they vend can be pivotal in keeping the industry at the forefront of convenience.
During the opening session, Heidi Chico, NAMA Chair and President of the Wittern Group, invited NAMA show attendees to consider innovation and change. Staying competitive in the business has always meant evolving. How can vending evolve? Think beyond the break room vending machine and consider other scenarios where a vending machine would be ideal. Roughly 4 percent of the items stocked by a typical vending machine are non-food items. The controlled dispensing of items like office and safety supplies help companies control costs. How can National Vending help your company save money?
Networking and Fun
One of our favorite parts of the NAMA show is being able to meet new people in the industry and form new partnerships. There’s something so nice about being able to shake someone’s hand you’ve talked with on the phone multiple times but have never met in person.
It’s not all work, there’s a little bit of play involved as well. There are social hours on the trade show floor. Being in the city that never sleeps also allows for fun to overflow to restaurants and other entertainment venues, offering the chance to get to know your coworkers, vendors and distributors all in the course of a week.