Smart Coolers: The New Alternative to Vending Machines

Looking for new ways to grow your vending business? If so, you may want to consider investing in smart coolers rather than adding more vending machines.   

Smart Cooler Cafe

Smart coolers are standalone coolers and freezers that remain locked until payment is processed. Customers shop their elections and pay at the touchscreen terminal or via mobile app. Generally, take up less footprint than a vending machine and offer more product variety and lower ownership costs. Continue reading to learn why they’re the next innovation in food and beverage vending.  
The high cost of traditional vending machines 
Traditional vending machines are a staple in many public spaces, offering a convenient way for people to grab a quick snack or drink. But they can be a significant financial burden for business owners. 
First, the upfront cost of a vending machine can be expensive (if you’re buying new). And if you’re investing in older, pre-owned vending machines to save on those upfront costs, ongoing maintenance and repair costs can quickly add up. 
The benefits of smart coolers 
In comparison to traditional food & beverage vending machines, smart coolers can be an appealing alternative in the right locations. 
Reduced costs

Smart coolers are a more affordable option for businesses of all sizes. They are typically less expensive to purchase than traditional vending machines, and they also require less maintenance. If a part breaks or the cooler stops working, it’s easier to repair and replace. 
Additionally, smart coolers take less energy to keep products cold, which can save businesses money on utility costs. And, when you use smart features like inventory tracking, you won’t have to take trips out to check inventory — saving money on gas and vehicle wear. 
Inventory flexibility

Smart coolers offer more product variety than traditional vending machines. They aren’t limited by coil size. This opens a world of fresh and frozen food possibilities. Without the size and mechanical constraints of a traditional vending machine, you can fill your smart cooler with more premium fresh or frozen food options that would never fit in a traditional vending machine. 

Customer convenience 
Compared to a cash-only vending machine, smart coolers provide a more convenient cashless payment experience for consumers. They accept a variety of payment methods, including credit cards, debit cards, and mobile payments.  
The facts are clear — cash is on the way out. Our Micropayment Trends Report showed in 2023, cashless payments accounted for 69% of all sales at vending machines and grew 29% year-over-year compared to 2022. 
Smart coolers can also be programmed to offer discounts, promotions, and loyalty programs, which can encourage customers to make purchases — perfect for repeat foot traffic areas like an office. 
Getting started with smart coolers 
When you’re looking at smart cooler models, consider factors such as capacity, energy efficiency, payment options, and available features like remote monitoring and inventory management. Choose a model that aligns with your business needs and budget. 
And when you’re considering where to place a smart cooler, think about your locations. Smart coolers are a great option for closed-loop environments like offices, secure apartment buildings, or commercial gyms. These locations feature familiar faces and a sense of community — which means you’re less likely to experience shrinkage through theft. Traditional vending machines may still be preferable for high-traffic, public areas where security might be a concern. 
Stocking the cooler with a variety of appealing products is key to customer satisfaction. Analyze your target market and identify popular products. The popularity of products and your location can dictate what products you sell. Then, of course, regularly monitor inventory levels and restock promptly to avoid stockouts.  
Once you’ve partnered with a reliable provider like Cantaloupe, you can enhance your smart cooler operations. Our smart cooler technology comes equipped with real-time inventory tracking. Additionally, they each have a built-in Smart Lock, which allows you to monitor and manage each of your locking coolers remotely via our Cantaloupe Go online dashboard or via mobile app.  
Ready to expand your vending business with smart coolers?

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