Micro Markets or Vending Machines: Which is Right for Your Business?

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All that glitters may not be gold… but wow, a newly installed micro market sure does shine.

In the last decade, micro markets have become a trend, and the industry has grown significantly. The North American micro market size was worth $3,950.4 million in 2022 and is expected to grow 13% from 2023 to 2030. With these self-checkout mini-stores, appealing to employees and clients alike has never been easier.

But how do you know when to make the switch? Are micro markets or traditional vending machines right for your business? We’re here to help you find out!

What’s the Difference?

Vending machine stocked with productsTraditional vending and self-checkout micro markets are two sides of the same unattended retail coin. While they have similar functions, there are several differences to consider when analyzing each solution.

Most people are familiar with traditional vending services. Vending machines are typically in a fixed location. These machines have limited food and beverage options consumers can dispense, making them ideal for open environments like rest stops, parking lots, hospitals, and malls. Consumers enjoy that these machines are easily accessible and that the items inside are relatively inexpensive.

Micro markets are typically considered a more premium option. These closed-loop markets are best implemented in contained, secure spaces. Micro markets are best suited for communal offices, hotels, living space lobbies, distribution centers, and more. Micro markets allow more diverse product offerings, including fresh and nutritious snacks and meals.

What Should I Consider?

Finding the right solution for your business looks different for everyone. There is no one-size-fits-all fix to feeding your team or guests.

Let’s take a closer look at what factors will majorly affect your decision to install traditional vending or modern micro markets.

  • Location: Micro markets are most effective in enclosed spaces. It’s better to place them in areas with low to moderate foot traffic, making them ideal for serving about 50 to 200 customers. Micro markets also tend to be less on the “micro” side of things. While they’re certainly not the size of your local grocery store, there needs to be enough space to fit shelving, display fixtures, and technology like self-checkout kiosks and security and surveillance devices. That said, Canteen micro markets are fully customizable. Even with a limited physical space, we can work with your team to build out an Avenue C in your space. Traditional vending machines, on the other hand, perform well in open areas with high foot traffic. While they hold a more limited inventory, they’re a great solution for serving high volumes of people who may be coming and going from your place of business.
  • Business Size: Vending machines are adaptable and can likely accommodate most businesses, big or small. They can offer snack and beverage options to any number of people, though these machines do limit the variety of products you can offer to guests. Micro markets require significant upkeep and inventory management and may be better suited for companies with larger teams. Vending operations managers may have more responsibility when restocking entire markets than they might with a limited vending inventory. Avenue C Canteen micro market
  • Security: Both vending machines and micro markets have the capacity for surveillance and other security measures. The unattended nature of a micro market may make it slightly more imperative to monitor the space using security monitors or even controlled access options. Again, markets operate better in a closed-loop environment. If this is impossible for your business, traditional vending is likely the better option.
  • Business hours: Another key factor in deciding between vending or micro markets is your business’s hours of operation. Micro markets offer 24/7 access. This is especially ideal for employees or guests who work untraditional hours. The night shift will appreciate having access to food and beverages at times when they’re working and may not be able to get food service otherwise.

Which Option is Better?

Thankfully, there isn’t a wrong answer to this question! This all depends on your specific business needs and capabilities.

While markets are certainly impressive and offer an interior design upgrade to most breakrooms and lobbies, they might not be the best fit for every company. Both markets and vending could be the better option depending on the specific scenarios in which they’re implemented. Both unattended retail options can excellently serve you and your client base or your employees.

Need a Hand?

If you’re struggling to decide whether you should install vending machines or a self-service micro market, Canteen can help. As experts in the unattended retail industry, we want to team up with you and understand your company’s capabilities to find the best solution for you.

When you choose Canteen, you’re choosing a business partner that works with you, not against you. We want to know your business so we can know the best way to help you succeed.

Are you interested in traditional vending or micro markets? Ready for a conversation? Fill out this quick form and get started with Canteen today!