Published Vending Articles

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Sep 22, 2015

The Vending Operator’s Dilemma

Vending Times – September 2015

By Dr. Paresh Patel

In the engineering world, there is a concept referred to as the “engineer’s dilemma.” Simply stated, you can have something good, fast or cheap – but you have to pick two. The dilemma is that you can’t have all three because they conflict, so you must pick the two that matter most.

This makes sense intuitively, and it applies to many areas of our lives. For example, if you wanted to have your house painted: You can have it good and cheap, bit it won’t be fast; or you can have it good and fast, but it won’t be cheap; or you can have it fast and cheap, but it won’t be good.

Read the complete article as a PDF

Jul 20, 2015

Innovating in Markets with “Chicken or Egg First” Dilemma

Silicon India, July 2015

By Paresh Patel

Whether the chicken or egg came first is an ancient philosophical dilemma that is often found in the business world as start-ups innovate new territory. This is usually the case when a new product or service requires two or more parties to not only adopt the innovation, but also change away from the status quo.

For instance, in the case of the carsharing service Uber, they needed both people offering rides and consumers requesting rides.

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Apr 4, 2014

The Hidden Cost of Cash

Automatic Merchandiser, March 2014, Cover Story

By Paresh Patel

Cash is often viewed as free, but its costs are simply intertwined with the vending operation and equipment costs.

What is the cost of accepting cash?  A first blush response may be “nothing” because unlike cashless payments, there is no “discount” fee paid off the top to a processor nor a monthly connection fee for the equipment.  Vending operators have long-favored cash in part because accepting it has been regarded as free especially when in comparison operators pay 5  to 7 percent for cashless payments.   In an industry where every percent counts, this cashless fee is viewed by many as onerous and has been a barrier to greater cashless penetration.

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Nov 1, 2013

Three Factors To Consider When Purchasing Product For Vending

Automatic Merchandiser, November 2013

By Paresh Patel

In my last blog post, I wrote on how operators should not allow personal preferences to affect purchasing decisions. In this post, I’ll share some of the factors we used for product selection.

We developed monthly menus for our snack vending machines. We began each month with a “broker meeting day.” In these meetings, the brokers would present us with new products, discuss rebates, share promotions and recap how we’re doing on their product lines. For us, the most important part was evaluating new products to determine what we were going to consider for the next month.

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Oct 1, 2013

The Future Of Money

Automatic Merchandiser, October 2013

By Paresh Patel

Over 4,200 innovators gathered at the Money 2020 conference in Las Vegas, Nev., which covered the latest innovations in payment and financial services. There were three themes that were woven throughout the conference: 1) simple is key, 2) user experience is important and 3) mobile wallets are the next big innovation in payments. But not all speakers were optimistic on the current state of mobile wallets.

Cyriac Roeding, CEO of shopkick, argued that mobile wallets are a solution in search of a problem. He said, “Most consumers don’t really like “pay”. It’s necessary, but not what people want to do. What people want to do is “shop.” Mobile payment by itself is not the solution. Mobile wallet is trying to replace something that is working.” His point was that mobile wallets need to more than just enable payment for it to become enticing for consumers to switch from plastic to mobile.

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Oct 1, 2013

The Sample Bag: Don’t Let Personal Preferences Influence Your Decision

Automatic Merchandiser , October 2013

By Paresh Patel

It seems every broker and manufacturer representative brings along with them a sample bag filled with product they represent. While surely no one is opposed to free stuff, especially when it comes to food, operators need to be conscious of the reasons product samples are brought into the office in the first place. Product samples are effective at enticing operators to purchase and stock the represented products. However, operators cannot let their personal tastes and preferences determine what they purchase from brokers and manufacturers.

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Apr 1, 2012

Better For Us: ‘Healthy Vending’ Is Not An Oxymoron, It’s A Sales Stimulator

Healthy Vending MachinesVending Times, April 2012

By Paresh Patel

Over the years, vending has become synonymous with “junk food” in the public’s perception. It does us no good to insist that no food item can be considered “junk” without reference to the diet of the individual consumer. An ever-larger proportion of our customers believe that traditional snacks and candies are not “good for them.”

And, until recently, rarely would anyone approach a vending machine expecting to find anything other than those standard chips, cookies, candies, chocolates and pastries. As the public increasingly equates “healthy” with lower sugar, higher fiber, less fat, salt and the like, it’s easy to see why the term “healthy vending” has become an apparent oxymoron, like “jumbo shrimp” or “deafening silence.” And this is costing us sales.

But that doesn’t have to be the case. The vending machine, after all, is simply a distribution channel, not unlike a convenience or grocery store. Other things being equal, it doesn’t matter to the operator if the sale that’s made is a chocolate bar or a granola bar, as long as the margins are the same.

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Apr 1, 2012

A New Definition of Vending

AM Magazine Vending TelemetryAutomatic Merchandiser, April 2012, Cover Story

By Paresh Patel

For the past 20 years, much of the development in the vending industry has been focused on improving back-end efficiencies such as vending management software (VMS), DEX, telemetry, pre-kitting, pick-to-light, and dynamic scheduling.

Over the next 10 years, the industry will focus on increasing sales through creating rich, engaging user experiences, and allowing various payment options. It will be less about the back-of-house operations as it will be about what the consumer faces — the front side.

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Mar 1, 2012

Apps That Make Powerful Management Tools

 

Vending Management ToolsAutomatic Merchandiser Magazine, March 2012

By Paresh Patel

I admit it, I love technology. I’m one of those people that wake up at 2 a.m. to pre-order the newest iPhone or iPad on the first day. I try to convince myself it is not just about having the latest gadget. To my defense, I work to integrate it into my vending business to maximize my productivity and to improve the company’s operations.

The important point is that these tools allow me to be better organized. This translates into a stronger impression on customers, potential customers and employees.

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Mar 1, 2012

My Role As The CEO Of A Startup

VendScreen Vending Technology About

Silicon India Magazine, March 2012

By Paresh Patel

Imagine trying to put together a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle without having seen the picture first. How difficult would that be? For most people, putting together the puzzle with the picture to compare to would be very challenging in itself and it would be virtually impossible without anything to compare against.

Building a company from the ground-up is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. The CEO must have a vision for the company and must clearly be able to visualize what the “puzzle” looks like. The CEO must also be able to articulate that vision because he or she will rely on other people to move the pieces into place. The CEO must be able to live in a reality where the puzzle is complete, even though pieces will not be in place yet. However, he or she has the confidence that all the pieces are there, and it is only a matter of time in finding the right piece for each part of the picture.

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Feb 1, 2012

Smart Phones And Tablets: Game Changers For Managing A Vending Business

Vending Telemetry Automatic MerchandiserAutomatic Merchandiser, February 2012, Cover Story

By Paresh Patel

If you’re an entrepreneur, one of the reasons you went into business in the first place was to have more freedom — the freedom to do what you want, when you want, how you want, and with whom you want. Ironically, not too long after you’re in business, you have less freedom than if you were an employee for someone else.

Couple that with communications technology — we’re getting so connected that even when we’re home or out of the office, we’re always connected to the business. Technology that was supposed to help us become more productive and provide some additional freedom has simply tied us down more!

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