Business Management

Vending Infographic – The Benefits of a VMS

Vending Management Systems (VMS) can help vending operators run their businesses more efficiently by giving them increased insight and control over their operations. But just how much can a VMS really help your vending business?

We dove down to get the stats on what you can expect to gain when adopting a VMS. This handy vending infographic shows how helpful tools like prekitting, dynamic routing and product merchandising can help operators get the most out of their operation.

A VMS tracks machine inventory levels remotely, so operators can know what products a machine needs ahead of time. This eliminates the need to manually count machine inventory at a location. As a result, drivers spend less time to service a machine. No more counting inventory manually and no more walking back and forth from machine to truck. This can help operators increase their overall route service efficiency up to 100%.

Operators with a vending management system can also expect to see increased sales. A VMS can inform operators of what products sell well and what products sell poorly. Armed with this knowledge, an operator can offer products their customers enjoy and increase machine sales by 10-15% in the process.

When a machine is selling more product, it accumulates cash more quickly. It also means products are selling out faster. With a VMS, operators can see how much of each product is left, and how much money a machine has collected since its last service. This information lets operators service machines only when products are sold out or cash should be collected. Operators using a VMS can expect to collect almost twice as much money from their machines.

Check out this vending infographic to see how a VMS can help you save time, boost sales, and gain greater control over your vending business.

Check out the vending infographic below:

Vending management system infographic

References

http://parlevelsystems.com/powerful-vending-solutions-that-can-help-you-cut-costs-and-increase-profits

http://parlevelsystems.com/get-the-most-out-of-your-vending-machine-prodcuts-with-product-merchandising

http://parlevelsystems.com/case-study-managing-growth-with-intuitive-vending-technology/

http://parlevelsystems.com/case-study-finding-success-in-healthy-vending

http://parlevelsystems.com/case-study-arkansas-vending-business-uses-parlevel-vms

Press Release

Press Release – Parlevel Reaches Agreements with Midwest Vending Pioneers

San Antonio, TX, May 9, 2016 – Parlevel Systems, the fastest growing provider of vending management solutions (VMS) for vending operators and office coffee service (OCS) providers, has reached partnerships with G&W Vendors of Waukesha, Wisconsin and Avcoa Vending of Chicago, Illinois to deploy its VMS, OCS and remote monitoring solutions.

“Parlevel provides operators with tools that allow them to dramatically increase sales in their already existing customer base,” said Alan Munson, chief commercial officer at Parlevel Systems. “Our system informs an operator of optimal machine service time, product performance levels, and machine optimization recommendations. This knowledge helps operators get the most out of their machines, while providing excellent service to their customers.”

G&W Vendors, a Canteen franchise company, and Avcoa Vending have reported major operational gains after implementing Parlevel’s vending management platform. Both G&W Vendors and Avcoa Vendors have experienced a 10-15% sales increase in most machines connected to Parlevel’s system.

“Parlevel’s tools have helped us significantly increase overall sales in our machines connected to the platform,” said Jeff Peterson, President at G&W Vendors. “In one machine, our weekly sales grew over 70%. We are excited to continue to use the system to make every aspect of our operation more efficient.”

About Parlevel

Based in San Antonio, Parlevel Systems is the fastest growing provider of management solutions for the food and beverage industries, including vending operators and coffee, tea, and water service providers. Founded by successful vending and technology professionals, Parlevel is dedicated to delivering powerful yet easy-to-use technology that provides operators with enhanced control and accountability of their business anywhere, anytime, and from any device. Parlevel utilizes a dedicated customer and technical support team to ensure seamless implementation and a transformative return on investment. For more information on Parlevel, please visit parlevelsystems.com/.

About G&W Vendors

G&W Vendors is a locally owned full line vending company that has been servicing Southeastern Wisconsin since 1933. G&W maintains a reputation for high quality fresh food, top brand-named products and excellent service. As a Canteen franchise, G&W operates thousands of machines in over 10 counties. G&W partnered with Parlevel Systems in December 2015 to help improve their operations. For more information on G&W Vendors, please call 877-506-8213.

About Avcoa Vending

Opening its doors for business in 1965, Avcoa Vending is a family owned vending, micro market, and office coffee service business serving the Chicago area. Avcoa is based on the principle of providing a good quality product at a good value with outstanding service. Their commitment to their customers has helped Avcoa become a vending mainstay in the Chicago area.  Avcoa partnered with Parlevel Systems in December 2015 to help them manage their company more efficiently. For more information on Avcoa Vending, please call 312-226-1700.

Press Release

Press Release – Parlevel Adds to Growing Suite of Vending Technology Products with Launch of Cashless Payment Platform

San Antonio, TX, May 9, 2016 – Parlevel Systems, the fastest growing provider of vending management solutions (VMS) for vending operators and office coffee service providers, announced the launch of their cashless payment platform, Parlevel Pay. Parlevel Pay enables vending operators to accept a variety of payment options to help drive sales and better satisfy customers.

Parlevel Pay accepts credit cards, debit cards, campus & loyalty cards, customer wallets, and mobile payments like Apple Pay and Android Pay at vending machines and micro markets. The ability to offer customers multiple payment options helps operators drive larger and more frequent purchases, capture the growing number of potential customers that rarely carry cash, and increase overall sales.

Backed by Parlevel Systems powerful vending management system, Parlevel Pay gives operators access to detailed analytics on their cashless payments. Operators can drill down into the effect cashless has on their business and make informed operational decisions to get the most out of their cashless readers.

“As the workforce in America gets younger, it is apparent to vending operators that they need to allow many different types of payments in order to satisfy evolving customer needs,” said Alan Munson, chief commercial officer at Parlevel Systems. “Our cashless solution is backed by Parlevel’s advanced vending management software that helps operators monitor what products their customers are purchasing, and how they are paying for them. These advanced analytics coupled with the ability to accept contemporary forms of payment help vending operators drive profits and better serve their customers.”

Purchases made with Parlevel Pay are deposited daily into an operator’s account which gives operators quick access to their money. Parlevel Pay utilizes secure gateways and daily processing that ensure cashless transactions are safe and reliable. The easy-to-use reporting system lets operators access transaction history, financial statements, deposit history, and more at the touch of a button.

For more information on Parlevel Pay, please visit: http://parlevelsystems.com/parlevel-pay/

About Parlevel

Based in San Antonio, Parlevel Systems is the fastest growing provider of management solutions for the food and beverage industries, including vending operators and coffee, tea, and water service providers. Founded by successful vending and technology professionals, Parlevel is dedicated to delivering powerful yet easy-to-use technology that provides operators with enhanced control and accountability of their business anywhere, anytime, and from any device. Parlevel utilizes a dedicated customer and technical support team to ensure seamless implementation and a transformative return on investment.

Press Release

Press Release – Parlevel Announces Availability of Flexible Financing Option

San Antonio, TX, May 2, 2016 – Parlevel Systems, the fastest growing provider of vending management solutions (VMS) for vending operators and office coffee service providers, announced the availability of their flexible financing solution, Parlevel Capital. Parlevel Capital is a financing program that helps vending operators invest in equipment and technology to grow their operations without heavy initial costs.

Parlevel Capital helps operators avoid hefty upfront investments by offering equipment with no money down and at an affordable flat monthly rate. Operators can start using Parlevel Capital in three easy steps: fill out a one page credit application form, choose a payment structure, and receive equipment. Parlevel Capital is the only financing solution that lets operator’s access credit for telemeters, cashless devices, phones, tablets, micro market kiosks, coolers, OCS equipment, and more.

“The close interactions we have with our customers show us how vital it is for a vending business to have cash available,” said Luis Gonzalez, chief executive officer at Parlevel Systems. “Big, upfront payments can make it very difficult for operators to invest in new technology, win accounts, and grow their operations. Our success depends on the success of our customers and we want vending operators to grow, thrive, and provide a great service to their customers. Parlevel Capital will help operators build great vending operations without breaking the bank.”

To learn more about Parlevel Capital, please visit: http://parlevelsystems.com/capital/

About Parlevel

Based in San Antonio, Parlevel Systems is the fastest growing provider of management solutions for the food and beverage industries, including vending operators and coffee, tea, and water service providers. Founded by successful vending and technology professionals, Parlevel is dedicated to delivering powerful yet easy-to-use technology that provides operators with enhanced control and accountability of their business anywhere, anytime, and from any device. Parlevel utilizes a dedicated customer and technical support team to ensure seamless implementation and a transformative return on investment.

Micro Markets, Press Release

Press Release – Parlevel Announces Launch of Total Micro Market Solution

San Antonio, TX, April X, 2016 – Parlevel Systems, the fastest growing provider of vending management solutions (VMS) for vending operators and office coffee service providers, announced the launch of their complete micro market solution. Parlevel’s micro market is the only true top to bottom hardware and software solution in the industry which provides operators with all of the necessary tools to successfully implement and manage a micro market operation.

A Kiosk that Customers Will Love  

Parlevel has engineered and designed a sleek, touchscreen kiosk that helps operators attract customers with an intuitive and an easy-to-use design. The kiosk lets users pay with credit, debit, pre-paid, and campus cards, mobile payments like Apple Pay and Android Pay, or cash which helps operators maximize sales.

“We are thrilled to offer operators a kiosk with state-of-the-art engineering design, strong customer engagement, and powerful operational capabilities,” said Luis Gonzalez, chief executive officer at Parlevel Systems. “Parlevel’s management systems cover more than a micro market’s operational needs. Our offerings also help operators understand their customers purchasing behaviors and product preferences – allowing them to deliver a first-class experience for the end user.”

The kiosk gives customers an express checkout experience where they simply scan, swipe, and go. Users can create a pre-loaded wallet and sign in with a barcode scan, login code, work badge, or their fingerprint to pay quickly and easily. Parlevel’s micro market allows operators to run personalized messages and promotions, collect feedback, hear customer concerns, provide exceptional support, and more.

Smart Software and a Secure Solution

Parlevel’s kiosk is built with Parlevel’s robust  management system that provides operators with the smartest micro market solution in the industry. Backed by Parlevel’s comprehensive analytics module, micro market reports can be run easily and with an unprecedented depth. Data on sales, customer habits, payment information, product performance, and more empowers operators to make better business decisions.

Operators substantially benefit from Parlevel’s remote access features which enable them to change prices, create promotional campaigns, access inventory levels, and even troubleshoot from any device, at any location, and at any time.

Parlevel’s micro markets use enhanced security technologies to protect operators from theft. Utilizing a customer-facing HD webcam and extensive surveillance cameras, every angle of a micro market is covered. Video and audio footage is stored in the cloud for up to 30 days, so operators won’t miss a thing. Stored footage and real-time video can be accessed 24/7 via mobile, desktop, or Parlevel’s VMS to give operators easy access to security footage day or night.

Total Integration with Vending and OCS

Parlevel’s micro market solution allows for full integration into Parlevel’s VMS and does not require operators to pay additional fees to manage micro markets, vending, and office coffee service operations all under one cohesive system. A route driver can service micro markets, OCS, and vending locations all in one route, which simplifies and streamlines the routing process. Robust features like product merchandising, inventory optimization, warehouse ordering, and pre-kitting are used across micro markets, OCS, and vending accounts, which helps operators achieve maximum efficiency for every aspect of their operation – all without the need to purchase add-ons or additional software.

Responsive Customer Support

Parlevel’s micro markets are backed by industry-best customer support. Parlevel’s customer support team helps operators integrate and manage their micro markets easily and effectively. Available any time via chat, email, and phone, operators can get the support they expect whenever and however they need it.

With flexible financing options available, operators can expand their micro market base without up-front equipment investments.

For more information on Parlevel’s micro markets, please visit: www.parlevelsystems.com/micro-market-3

 

About Parlevel

Based in San Antonio, Parlevel Systems is the fastest growing provider of management solutions for the food and beverage industries, including vending operators and coffee, tea, and water service providers. Founded by successful vending and technology professionals, Parlevel is dedicated to delivering powerful yet easy-to-use technology that provides operators with enhanced control and accountability of their business anywhere, anytime, and from any device. Parlevel utilizes a dedicated customer and technical support team to ensure seamless implementation and a transformative return on investment.

 

Industry, Technology

Don’t Miss Parlevel at NAMA 2016.

Parlevel NAMA OneShowParlevel has been working hard to help operators manage their operations more easily and efficiently than ever, and we are excited to show you everything we have to offer. We will be debuting several exciting products at this year’s NAMA OneShow, so make sure you don’t miss out! Visit Parlevel at Booth #2000 April 13-15, 2016 at McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois to see the newest additions to the Parlevel family, try out our vending software, and explore how we can help your business prosper.

Make sure to stop by these special events at NAMA featuring Parlevel to learn how to successful approach implementing technology into your business.

Parlevel NAMA Schedule of Events

Weds, April 13th

8:30 am – 9:30 am: Roadmap to Technology: Starting Out, Speeding Up, and Scalable Solutions

Are you an independent operator with a small to medium number of routes looking to invest in technology to help manage and/or operate your business? Have you been put off by the apparent overwhelming burden of creating an initial business database and product catalog? Which applications make most sense and which should be postponed or avoided? Come hear how others got started, what they determined were feasible and logical first steps, and why they did or did not implement specific applications.

Learn how operators were successful by electing what to do and when to do it. This session is for both newbie and experienced operators interested in designing a technology roadmap to guide their decision making. Lower your anxiety and let the experience of others be your guide.

9:45 am – 11:15 am: Small Operator Roundtable

If you are a vending operator managing no more than 4 routes and fewer than 10 employees, the challenges of running your operation are unique to a small business owner. Technology, Micro Markets, expansion, pre-kitting and general operations are just some of the management questions you consider as you build your company. Come to a round table session that is tailor-made for you!

Connect with your peers and join fellow small operators for open conversation on topics that are chosen by you! This session will be moderated by Chip Potter, NAMA’s Vice President of Information Services.

Thurs, April 14

Friday, April 15

9:00 am – 1:00 pm: Visit us at Booth #2000

 

We look forward to seeing you at the NAMA OneShow!

Press Release

Press Release – Parlevel to Showcase Vending Management Solution & Debut New Products at the 2016 NAMA OneShow

San Antonio, TX, March 23, 2016 –  Parlevel Systems (www.parlevelsystems.com), the fastest growing provider of vending management solutions (VMS) for vending operators and office coffee service providers, will showcase its suite of vending management tools and debut new products during the NAMA OneShow at booth #2000 from April 13-15.

Parlevel will be exhibiting powerful tools that help operators spend less, sell more, and streamline their operations. The company will unveil an array of new products that will enable vending businesses to easily utilize state-of–the-art technology in their operations. These new products will seamlessly integrate with Parlevel’s innovative VMS.

“No other technology provider in the industry communicates with their customers as often as Parlevel,” said Luis Gonzalez, chief executive officer of Parlevel Systems. “Our industry-best customer support approach allows us to identify the unique challenges and opportunities vending operators face every day. We have examined these insights and created some of the most robust tools in the food and beverage industry. We are very excited to unveil all the progress we have made since the last NAMA OneShow and to show operators how we can help them streamline their operations in newer and smarter ways.”

The NAMA OneShow is the premier trade show for the $25 billion vending, coffee service, and food-service management industries. Operators from across the country will be able to visit the booths of suppliers, explore cutting-edge technology, and attend educational seminars that will help them grow their businesses.

About Parlevel

Based in San Antonio, Parlevel Systems is the fastest growing provider of management solutions for the food and beverage industries, including vending operators and coffee, tea, and water service providers. Founded by successful vending and technology professionals, Parlevel is dedicated to delivering powerful yet easy-to-use technology that provides operators with enhanced control and accountability of their business anywhere, anytime, and from any device. Parlevel utilizes a dedicated customer and technical support team to ensure seamless implementation and a transformative return on investment. For additional information, please visit: www.parlevelsystems.com.

Business Management

Top 10 Questions You Need to Ask Vending Management Providers

Vending management systems (VMS) can help vending operators increase the efficiency of their operations through the fusion of technology into their businesses. According to a case study conducted by Parlevel on vending operations in Arkansas and Texas, operations have shown a 140% increase in route efficiency and a 30% reduction in operating expenses after adopting a VMS. There are many VMS providers out there that promise to help vending operators run their business better, but not all of these companies are created equal. There are positives and negatives to each system, so it is important to find VMS that fits your business .

With the NAMA OneShow in Chicago right around the corner, it is important to be prepared to ask the right questions when shopping for a vending management system. Shundra Johnson, co-owner of Sunshine’s Vending – a family-owned vending operation based out of Los Angeles – attended the 2015 NAMA convention in Las Vegas with one goal in mind: find a vending software solution that could help her effectively manage her business.

Johnson found a VMS to help manage her company, and it was initially successful. However as her company grew, Johnson began to have issues with her software. Eventually, it became too much to handle, and Johnson had to start all over again.

Here are 10 questions Johnson wished she had asked the first time she shopped for a VMS:

1. Is the VMS user-friendly?

Vending Management Systems include many robust features, but not all are easy to use. The underlying code of vending technology is built by computer engineers and software developers with extreme tech-savvy. Issues can arise when developers create systems that are too complicated for the end-user. These high tech systems sometimes require an operator or a route driver to undergo significant training to fully utilize their features skillfully and easily.

On the other hand, some vending software services are very easy-to-use and user friendly, but may be overly simplistic and provide only basic features. These unsophisticated systems might not give an operator enough control over their operation and often struggle at managing growth. A system should find the sweet spot between ease-of use and powerful functionality.

“We initially ran our business with Microsoft Office tools,” said Johnson. “As our operation grew, it became too much to manage with this basic software.” Johnson attended NAMA in search for a VMS to help her manage her business. She visited many different vending technology booths and after weighing her options, she decided she needed a system that was the easiest for her to learn.

“We chose a system that was extremely user friendly,” said Johnson. “I was the only one in my company that was really computer literate. We thought it may be too difficult for the other owners to understand the software.” As her company expanded, she quickly outgrew her VMS and needed more features to manage her operation effectively.

After Johnson picked the easiest system, it was only six months before she realized she had made a mistake. Johnson needed a system that wasn’t just user-friendly, but also powerful. “Lucky for us, we realized our mistake early enough to make a change and transition to a different system,” said Johnson.

2. Is the system cloud-based or server-based?

Vending management systems come in two forms: server-based and cloud-based. Server-based systems store data locally on a program or a device. Operators often have to download special computer programs to make a device compatible with a server. Additionally, a device has to be physically connected to a server in order to access the data stored within. The server’s resources  are wholly owned by a vending operator and aren’t shared with other companies, so they are beneficial to companies that use huge amounts of data. For example, credit card companies with huge amounts of customer information use servers to store their massive pools of data.

Cloud-based systems are a little different. They back up data on many servers through the internet and can be accessed from virtually anywhere. Dropbox and Google Drive are good example of cloud-based systems. Since your data exists on many different servers, these systems are virtually limitless and rarely need to be upgraded or expanded. According to Rackspace, cloud serversare a great option for businesses that need to optimise IT performance without the huge costs associated with (server-based systems),” which makes them popular with small and mid-sized businesses.

Server-based systems are more difficult and more expensive to upgrade than their cloud-based counterparts. When expanding data capacity in the cloud, one simply pays more monthly to access more cloud space. With a server, IT experts must physically upgrade and add hard drives to expand their data.

Furthermore, loss of data is a concern in server-based systems. Many of these systems aren’t backed up in many locations. If the server and its backup location malfunctions, all of the data is completely lost. This failure could prove catastrophic for a vending operation that relies on past data to run their business.

Since cloud systems utilize many servers, there is never a risk to completely lose data. One backup location can be compromised, but many backups still remain. Vending operators who choose a cloud-based systems can rest easy knowing their data won’t be erased. If an operation is looking for an affordable, secure, and scalable system, cloud-based systems are the best option.

3.What devices can I use with the VMS?

Vending management systems utilize many different technologies to help operators manage their businesses. Over the years, handhelds have been one of the most common devices used to log data into a VMS. These handhelds let employees scan products and record inventory levels while out in the field. This data can then be physically downloaded to a computer when an employee returns to the warehouse.

Recently, vending technology has evolved and newer devices have emerged. Now, many systems are cloud-based, which means any device with an internet connection is compatible. iPod Touches, iPhones, Samsung tablets, and Android phones can all be used with these systems.

While handhelds and newer devices both grant mobile access to a VMS, they do so in different ways. Smartphones and tablets can remotely deliver data to a management system through the cloud, while information stored on handhelds can not be accessed until a driver downloads the data at the end of his route. Furthermore, handhelds and scanners tend to be bulky and expensive. Handhelds from Motorola, for example, can cost anywhere from $1600-$2000 and can cost up to $400 on repairs alone.

Vending software that is compatible with mobile devices can save operators money, since they can choose from a variety of  different devices. A Samsung Galaxy 4, for example, can be found for just over $100. Furthermore, some employees might already have personal smartphones that are compatible with a VMS, which lets an operator avoid buying devices completely. Or, they can provide a monthly stipend to their employees to account for cellular data usage.

Johnson’s new system is cloud-based, which means she can use virtually any device. “We use cell phones, laptops, and tablets to access our vending software,” said Johnson. “Not only can we manage our operation from virtually anywhere and on any device, we saved time on training our employees, since they were already familiar with working on these devices.”

4. How often often do vending management systems “check in” with my machines?

Vending management software utilizes remote monitoring through telemetry hardware to alert operators to machine information like breakdowns, bill jams, coin jams, inventory levels, money to be collected, and more. Remote monitoring lets operators track machine status without the need to physically visit the machine.

VMS companies track machine information through DEX or MDB data. Systems that utilize DEX data will “check in” with a machine at pre-set times. MDB data doesn’t “check in” like DEX, but instead sends machine information with every transaction. With MDB, a machine that experiences zero sales is indistinguishable from a machine that is broken down, since neither situation triggers MDB data to be sent to a management system. As a result, DEX data will relay more machine breakdown data like compressor issues or if a machine door was opened when it was not planned for service.

Going a step further, different hardware companies offer different “check in” frequencies with DEX data. For example, one company can offer DEX communications twice a day, while another can offer it 4 times a day. The more DEX communications per day, the better off an operator is. Frequent system “check ins” help an operator spot critical machine malfunctions more quickly.

When Johnson made the move to a different VMS, she made sure her machines communicated with the system very frequently. “We wanted as much machine communication as possible, so we could know ahead of time if there was a problem with a machine,” said Johnson. “This would enable us to go service the machine as soon as there was an issue, and we could keep accounts happy and avoid missing out on sales.”

5. Will the VMS work with different aspects of my business?

As the vending industry continues to grow, many vending operators are involved in more than just vending. In particular, micro-markets and Office Coffee Services (OCS) are a growing part of the vending industry. According to a study done by Coca-Cola, there are projected to be over 35,000 micro-markets by 2020.Top 10 Q's

Vending software is often built to work only with traditional vending businesses. For operations that strictly pursue vending, these systems work just fine. Other vending management platforms can additionally manage OCS or micro-markets, but may require the purchase of  additional software or add-ons. In addition, some platforms exclusively manage only OCS or micro-markets.

It is imperative that a vending operator chooses a system that will help them manage many different aspects of their business. Instead of using one company for vending, one for coffee, another for micro-markets, and yet another for telemetry, an operator can streamline their operations by choosing one company that can handle it all.

“We can effectively manage our different business operations with the same company,” said Johnson. “We’re aware of the profitability of micro-markets and OCS, and we have the option to implement them with vending under the same software if we wanted to.”

6. Will a VMS provider work with a company my size?

Vending operations come in all sizes, however, there are significantly fewer smaller operators today than 20 years ago. According to Vending Market Watch, 81.3% of operations could be considered small in 1995. In 2015, small operations only comprise 51% of the industry.

Large companies benefit greatly from vending management systems. These bigger businesses tend to have more routes, higher transportation costs, increased inventory costs, and a larger overall overhead than their smaller counterparts. A VMS can reduce these costs by streamlining operations, which can help larger operations significantly increase their bottom line. One large operator based out of Houston experienced a substantial 25% reduction in operating expenses after adopting vending software.

Vending management systems don’t only help large operations. In fact, these systems can work wonders for smaller companies as well. Vending Market Watch reports that the “dollar percentage of sales has gotten better for all size operators with the exception of extra-large.” Vending Market Watch theorizes that “vending management systems and telemetry are playing a role here.”

Still, some vending software companies won’t pay attention to vending operations that they deem “too small,” while other providers simply aren’t equipped to handle an operation that is “too big.”

“The system we used initially was not prepared to handle our business as we grew,” said Johnson. “We were not a huge company, but we still needed software that would handle our growth.”

Johnson looked for a VMS that could manage their operation far into the future. “We needed software that could both handle the size of our operation and allow us to grow if we wanted to,” said Johnson.

7. Do they offer a mobile app?

As previously mentioned, cloud-based systems can be accessed from virtually any device through the web browser. However, not all vending software systems are easily viewable on the smaller displays of smartphones and tablets. Data and information can be squeezed and compressed until it is too difficult to use on smaller devices. Operators out in the field might not be able to accurately see necessary information, which can prove problematic.

Vending technology providers can solve this problem by providing mobile apps that optimize their software for smaller screens. Mobile apps are made with smaller devices in mind, so they can help operators that want to use the system out in the field.

“Vending is an on-the-go operation,” said Johnson. “Technicians in the field need to be able access their information easily while on their routes. A tool like this is truly indispensable for our route drivers.”

8. How will I transition into the system?

Once we get into a habit, it can be hard to break, and getting into a new routine can be even more difficult. Research shows that, on average, it takes more than two months before a new behavior becomes automatic. For most operators, running their business has become routine, and implementing a vending management system is a big change; machines need to be integrated into the system, inventory has to be accounted for, and employees need to be trained to use the system effectively. Vending technology companies have a responsibility to make the habit forming transition as easy as possible for operators.

Instead of trying to fit an operator into their system, VMS providers should fit their system to an operator. For example, if there is an aspect of a vending business that isn’t supported by the system, a company should work to integrate it.

“Our drivers only service machines and don’t collect money from them,” said Johnson. “This method wasn’t compatible with our first provider. With our new system, we got with their technical team and told them of how we ran our business. Within months, they made a feature that let us define our routes exactly how we wanted them solely because of our recommendation.”

9. How will I learn to effectively use the system?

No matter how technologically capable or advanced, a system is only as effective as the person using it. If an operator wants to truly get the most out of their system, they need to learn how to use it, and there’s no better source than the company providing the VMS.

Vending technology companies may provide manuals or training videos to help operators learn the technology. However, not everyone learns in the same way. “We had little to no training with our first system,” said Johnson.

Operators should be taught how to use the system through a platform that works best for them. Whether through phone calls, web chat, emails, or video calls, users need different options to learn the software effectively, expertly, and easily.

“With our new system, I went through training so I could better use the software,” said Johnson. “I could choose whichever method worked best for me, so we did it over the phone and online. The staff was so willing to help. It didn’t matter how often I had questions, they always made sure I was readily equipped to use the software.”

10. Do I have access to customer support if I need it?

Once an operator is trained to use the software, access to customer support is integral for success. Many VMS companies are constantly adding new features or functionality, and an operator needs to stay on top of these changes.

Unfortunately, not all companies provide adequate customer support. They either halt the support after a certain period of time, or charge operators a fee to access these services. “It was too hard to reach customer service with our first company,” said Johnson. “They had very limited hours, and we couldn’t get in contact with their representatives.”

After her negative experience, Johnson made sure comprehensive customer support was on the top of her list.

“Our new system’s support team always answers our phone calls,” said Johnson. “If we get stuck, they always answer our questions right away. I’ve been up at 3 o’clock in the morning my time, and I still get a response. I’ve done it on New Years Eve, and I was getting responses right away. That is huge being able to have customer service because no system is going to be perfect. There are going to be kinks. This is technology, and things are going to happen. We expect that. But it’s amazing that we have a 24 hour window to speak with somebody at any given time about anything and 99 times out of 100 you get results right away and 100% of the time it gets resolved. So we are very very pleased with our current VMS. Very very pleased.

About Sunshine’s Vending:

Sunshine’s Vending is a family-owned vending operation that has been servicing the Los Angeles area for over seven years. Reliability and an enduring focus on customer service have helped Sunshine’s stand out from its competitors. Sunshine’s began using Parlevel Systems in 2015 to help them manage their company expertly and effectively. For more information on Sunshine’s Vending, please call 310-422-8029.

Case Study

Case Study: Finding Success in Healthy Vending through Technology

The topic of healthy eating is near impossible to avoid and continues to shape the future of vending. Today, more than one-third of US adults are considered obese causing obesity to be the second largest cause of preventable death in the US according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. As a result of this rapidly growing number, federal and state governments have instituted a variety of laws enforcing stricter guidelines on the nutritional value of snack products being sold on government & educational properties. The Healthy and Sustainability Guidelines for Federal Concessions and Vending Operators enforces healthy options in some federal offices, while the USDA’s Smart Snacks in School initiative requires that snacks sold in schools adhere to higher nutritional standards.

Not only has the Government recognized the need to change our eating habits, American consumers efforts to eat healthier are also on the rise. In a survey done by Technomics,  58% of American consumers agree that it is important to eat healthy, while Human Vending Franchisees have reported the sales of healthy snacks outpace traditional snacks almost threefold (HUMAN). Rising health concerns, stricter nutritional laws & guidelines, and an increasing number of health conscious consumers prove that healthy eating – as well as healthy vending – is not going away any time soon.

However, despite the potential to be very profitable, many operators are still hesitant to stock their machines with nutritionally valuable options. High product costs, spoilage, and difficulty establishing customer preferences can make operators skeptical of placing healthier products in their machines. For some, the risk associated with these snacks is simply too high. On the other hand, healthy vending has great potential to yield high rewards with 88% of consumers willing to pay more for food they know is healthy (Forbes).

Some operators see the industry transition toward healthy as an opportunity, however, how are they reducing the risk associated with stocking healthy products? One operator shares his solution to minimizing uncertainty and reaping the rewards of healthy vending. Just six months after implementing vending technology into his business, he was able to pull an extra $100 per machine every time he serviced them.

Recognizing the Opportunity in Healthy Vending

Tanner Andrews, head of Nebraska Sports Nutrition, watched traditional snacks being ignored at vending machines placed in active locations like gyms and youth clubs, and thought there must be a better way. “I really wanted to make healthy snacks more available – especially to kids,” said Tanner. Seeing an opportunity that was being overlooked, Tanner became a HUMAN Healthy Vending franchisee and tackled healthy vending head-on. Nebraska Sports Nutrition focuses solely on providing nutritionally rich products in Boys and Girls Clubs, youth sports venues, skate parks, Taekwondo schools, gymnasiums, and more all over Nebraska.

Despite filling the need for nutritional products at these active locations, Tanner experienced the challenges with healthy vending that required more attention than a typical vending operation. Healthier products are often made with fewer preservatives which result in shorter lifespans. With this in mind, Tanner had to be more calculated about his purchasing decisions and his product placements.  In order to avoid letting good product go to waste, Tanner had to identity his customer preferences earlier in his operations growth. He soon realized he needed help to find those preferences. “Traditional vending has been around for a very long time, and keys to success have long been set.” said Tanner. “With healthy vending being new to the industry, there aren’t previous standards to go off of. Healthy vendors must pioneer their own methods for dealing with unique issues like increased spoilage, high product costs, and picky customers.”

Searching for Help

Not long after beginning his search for a management tool to help cut down on expenses, Tanner heard about Parlevel Systems – a vending management system provider that gives operators the tools to capture insights about their machines, increase operational efficiencies, and seize control over their business.

“When we first heard about Parlevel, we immediately knew this was something that could help our business,” said Tanner. Tanner thought the system could help him establish customer preferences, decrease spending on slow moving products, and combat product spoilage. “Managing risk and streamlining operational efficiencies were the biggest reasons we switched over to a VMS with Parlevel. After making the move, it was clear that a VMS is essential to running a good business.”

Learning Customer Preference

It didn’t take long for Tanner to see that Parlevel was making a difference in his day to day operations. One of the biggest challenges he experienced with vending was trying to establish his customer’s product preference per location. “Parlevel’s system helped us optimize the inventory in our machines,” said Tanner. Without vending technology, stocking his machines would amount to a guessing game, and sales would suffer when he wasn’t able to identify which products would perform well at each location.

With Parlevel’s machine optimization tool, operators are able to visually identify high performing products and low performing products on an individual machine basis. This feature utilizes remote monitoring and sales data to give vending operators the ability to stock more of what sells well while satisfying customers’ needs. In healthy vending, this tool can be particularly effective in decreasing the amount spent on slow moving products.

“Machine optimization showed us what was selling and helped us stock the right products,” said Tanner. Tanner had machines in many different locations, and every location had different preferences. “With the software, we could see what worked well in a school, a business, or wherever else our machines are located.” In just 6 months, these insights helped Tanner establish effective and customer-centric machine planograms, increase customer satisfaction, and boost gross overall sales by 20%.

Decreasing the Cost of Excess Ordering

Learning his customers’ preferences led Tanner to solve another problem common to healthy vending – high cost of goods. Tanner had realized that healthy items tend to cost more than traditional snacks and beverages, and ordering an excess of these products could prove costly. Without help from a vending management tool, Tanner would often guess at how much stock to purchase and ordered a surplus of goods that would often expire before they were purchased. “The hardest thing about healthy vending is there are tons of different brands out there – it is a guessing game,” said Tanner. He turned to Parlevel’s warehouse tool  to help him optimize his ordering.

Parlevel’s warehouse tool recommends ordering quantities based on previous sales history. The system looks at the past two weeks of sales across all machines and generates a suggested ordering amount for each product. This tool helps vending operators decrease their cost of goods and increase ordering efficiency.

After adopting the Parlevel VMS, Tanner knew what products were a good investment and what quantities to expect to sell before expiration. With this information, Tanner decreased his cost of goods and improved his bottom line by cutting out poor-performing products and ordering only what he needed. “We were trying to get to the point where we only carried what we sold,” said Tanner. “Parlevel helped us do that.”

Reducing Product Spoilage

“Product spoilage used to be a big problem for us,” said Tanner. Tanner mainly focused on fresh, organic, or preservative-free food, and his products generally expired at a rapid rate. Before he implemented the vending management software, Tanner was prone to ordering too much of a product or slow moving goods that expired before they could sell. He looked to Parlevel’s warehouse tool to help him decrease his spoilage rates.

Parlevel’s warehouse and machine optimization tools worked together to decrease product spoilage in both the warehouse and at the machine level. The warehouse tool takes past sales into account and estimates the amount of product needed to fulfill customer demand, which enables vending operators to decrease their overall cost of goods, lower inventory maintenance costs, and combat product spoilage by ordering only what is needed. Without an excess of inventory sitting in the warehouse, products get placed in machines before they expire. Once in the machine, products sell quickly because the machine optimization tool ensures only high performing products are stocked. Since these products move quicker, they are consumed before they have a chance to expire.

“Parlevel’s system made it easy to stock top products, order the right inventory, and decrease product spoilage,” said Tanner. With Parlevel’s help, Tanner optimized his machine inventory and his ordering process. As a result, he experienced reduced spoilage in his machines and his warehouse.

Looking Forward

With Parlevel’s technology at his fingertips, Tanner controlled the risks inherent of healthy vending and drove his company toward success. “As a result of the changes we made with help from the VMS, we pulled an extra $100 per machine every time we serviced them,” said Tanner.

As Nebraska Sports Nutrition continues to grow, Tanner looks forward to helping set the standard for healthy vending. “Healthy vending is becoming more mainstream,” said Tanner. “Products are starting to be branded better, and people are beginning to understand what is good for them.” Tanner plans to continue using vending technology to help his business succeed. “Our partnership with Parlevel optimized our machines and made them really, really strong. In the near future, we want to continue optimizing every machine we get.” In the long run, Tanner is focusing on what motivated him to try healthy vending in the first place. “Our long term goal is to focus on youth sports and youth fitness. We want to help people and inspire kids to eat healthy for the rest of their lives.”

Business Management

Bidding on an Account? These 5 Tips can Help You Win Big

Different vending companies have different sets of goals. Some operators want to optimize current machines, while others look to effectively manage an expansion. Regardless of their ambitions, one goal remains constant across numerous vending operations: landing profitable accounts.

Finding and securing accounts that turn a significant profit is key to keeping vending operations successful. Locating these accounts can prove difficult and winning them can be even harder. However, one easy tool has helped operators gain an advantage in securing profitable locations. Vending management systems (VMS), like the one offered by Parlevel Systems, enable vendors to better find, secure, and maintain profitable accounts.

Here are 5 ways vending technology can help vending operators secure accounts:

1. Know what commissions to offer

Some accounts require vending operators to pay a percentage of their total sales as a commission in order to set-up at their location. These commissions are negotiable; however, many of the figures can be arbitrary. A location likely does not know an operator’s profit margin and could demand an unrealistic commission, which would lead to an unprofitable account. “You have to know your profit margin when pitching commissions to accounts,” said Jason Sledge, a vending operator who used vending management systems (VMS) from Parlevel to successfully secure profitable accounts.

Sledge runs Snack & Pop Vending – a family owned vending operation providing state-of-the-art vending solutions to the Dallas area. Vending technology helps him negotiate a fair commission by giving him access to detailed financial statements about his business. The VMS generates reports on total costs, gross revenue, profit margins, and even tax groups. Sledge can bring these reports to a negotiation and use them to keep commissions reasonable and locations profitable.

“When we are bidding against another vending company, we consult our financial statements and offer a commission that is competitive while staying profitable,” said Sledge. “Our negotiations are backed up with hard data, which makes the final commission fairer for both sides.”

2. Promise minimal stock-outs and downtime

Stock-outs and machine downtime can drive accounts crazy. Locations often dread having a machine that is routinely empty or out-of-order. Not only do they have to deal with complaints from employees or customers, they often find themselves calling the vending company only to complain. “When you get called into an account, often it is because there is something not stocked in a machine or it is broken down,” said Sledge. An operator would have a high chance to win a potential account if they could promise minimal stockouts and rapid response to malfunctioning machines.

Vending EquipmentTraditionally, a vending business takes a reactive approach to stock-outs and downtime in which they wait for an account to call and complain, and then they’ll attempt to fix the issue. Effective vending technology enables vending operators to take a more proactive approach with their locations. A proper VMS utilizes remote monitoring which allows vending operators to virtually look inside their machines any time and from any device. The software informs operators about low inventory and alerts them to machine breakdowns as soon as they happen.

With Parlevel’s VMS, Snack & Pop’s phone calls from frustrated accounts have diminished. “The system is real time, and we immediately know if the machine is down. This lets us get out there the same day and take care of it before an account gets annoyed.” Sledge has an advantage over other operators when bidding on a location because he can promise a rapid response to machine issues.

3. Impress accounts with technology

Pitching vending services to an account can be a somewhat dull affair. Vending companies can give a background on their business, supply a list of products being offered, communicate what machines will be provided, or discuss commissions during a presentation. With vending technology, a company can provide a more interesting pitch when bidding on an account. “When I show potential accounts the VMS they are surprised,” said Sledge. “It definitely has that ‘cool factor.’”

Parlevel SystemsGood vending software can impress potential locations almost immediately. A vendor can pull out an iPad and show an account how they’ll use the VMS to keep machines stocked, ensure timely service, and manage product requests – all with the touch of a finger. A pitch utilizing this technology can stand out among competitors who use more traditional methods.

Sledge has used this technological advantage to impress and win potential accounts. “Almost every account knows very little about vending technology,” said Sledge. “The technology is completely new to them, and it definitely makes a difference during negotiations.”

4. Ensure happy customers

Many accounts decide to employ vending machines due to the benefits it provides their customers or employees, and a location will want to keep an operator’s services as long as their customers are happy. It is imperative for a vending business to keep these customers happy; however, companies can struggle to keep satisfaction high. Customers can make product requests that are difficult to fulfill. If an operator stocks a requested item, they run the risk of pulling a popular item and upsetting someone else.

A VMS can keep an account happy by effectively dealing with customers’ product demands. Vending technology offers product merchandising tools that measure sales figures machine by machine and highlight high-sellers and low-sellers. If a customer wants a specific product, an operator can consult these sales figures via the VMS, swap out a low selling item, and replace it with the requested item. “Parlevel’s software helps me satisfy customer demands by informing me of what sells well and what doesn’t,” said Sledge. “I can go into the VMS, check product sales figures, and add new products without anybody getting upset at taking something out, said Sledge. “This is a great way to keep customers – and accounts – happy.”

5. Generate Recommendations

Vendors often invest a lot of time searching for accounts. Sometimes when an operator finds a potential location, they aren’t receptive to accepting vending services. Referral and recommendation accounts tend to be easier to land. “Referred accounts are a lot easier to maintain because they are excited and know that we are a good company,” said Sledge. Vending technology can increase the rate of referrals because they help vending operators provide an extremely high level of service.

“We’ve picked up quite a few accounts through word-of-mouth, and Parlevel’s VMS helped us do that,” said Sledge. As Snack & Pop expands, Sledge plans to continue using vending technology to secure, maintain, and find accounts. “Customer service and technology go hand-in hand. With all of the ways Parlevel’s VMS has helped my business, I firmly believe technology is the new way of vending.”