The Visionary Micro Market – Expanding into a Broader Space

By Julian Attree, CEO for Minus Forty 

Minus Forty Pico Technologies

What kind of technologies will give us an augmented micro market experience? The micro market industry is growing at a fast pace. Increasingly, we are seeing traditional closed vending expand its footprint into more semi-public or public venues. What is happening, is that we are experiencing older vending and micro market solutions that are typically being used in unattended markets with cameras and payment kiosks, morph into more public spaces and venues thanks to integrated and state-of-the-art technology systems.  

Every new technology we are seeing today in the vending and micro market space is about making the experience for the customer more intelligent. And it’s also about making the business itself more efficient, adaptable and profitable for the operator. 

Companies like Minus Forty and 365 Retail Markets have partnered and are experimenting with IoT refrigeration solutions that provide operators with an augmented and integrated micro market experience. Together, we have developed the PicoCooler and Breeze systems, both capable of allowing consumers to unlock a glass door merchandiser with their credit card and purchase product – making it a fluid and independent buying process. The micro market setting is becoming more intuitive and more diverse, which is key to a better customer experience and overall business growth. A recent survey conducted by USA Technologies (now Cantaloupe) indicates that cashless terminals analyzed saw a 51 percent growth in sales per self-serve kiosks, vending machines and cashier-less stores, with 61.7 percent total sales in July 2020 made with cashless payments.  

This kind of smart vending includes touchless payment systems, where tablets are installed on the door of refrigeration cabinet.  The tablets can read a customer’s credit card, take a payment and then give the customer access to the food and beverage products inside. There’s an honor system, where the customer pays for exactly what they take out. In another level up, we have the same payment solution, but then it’s connected to shelf weight sensors inside the cabinet to determine what products have been removed by the consumer, and then automatically charge their card. There’s also video recognition as the customer is pulling the product out of the display merchandiser, the product is identified and charged to the card.  After the transaction is completed and the merchandiser door is closed, the door locks itself. 365 Retail Markets is very active in this space and is quite innovative and creative in its solutions. Their visionary approach provides the backdrop for the future micro market experience. 

With the pace of technology and the solutions that are becoming available, micro market owners are able to expand their business opportunities. The advantage of the micro market type of IoT solutions and these grab-and-go mechanisms that are launching today, allow operators to get away from the traditional vending machine, which is non-engaging. They can go beyond the private vending machine selling method to a more public and expanded micro market offering. 

So, what will micro markets look like five years from now? Hard to say, but as they become more intelligent from enhanced technologies and we stay the course, the options and where we go is almost endless. Minus Forty and 365 Retail Markets will continue to develop visionary ideas and IoT solutions that will broaden the industry for tomorrow, help micro markets expand into larger spaces and that will contribute to an overall smarter product investment and better sales.  

Julian Attree

Julian Attree 

Julian Attree is the CEO at Minus Forty Technologies. Julian founded the company to develop and manufacture commercial refrigerated display merchandisers. He implemented a complete shift in strategy and brought to fruition a new, advanced product family to ensure Minus Forty’s long-term success as a brand and product that delivers to customers a smarter investment and better sales.