Business Management

Should You Install a Micro Market or a Vending Machine?

December 20, 2022 | By Cantaloupe, Inc.

Should You Install a Micro Market or a Vending Machine?

Micro markets and vending machines both offer enormous potential for growth, but what’s the best option for your business? While vending has been the big focus of the self-service industry for years, micro markets are a rapidly growing segment. With easy maintenance, fresh products, low start-up costs and large revenue potential, many operators are making the move into micro markets. 

But how do you determine where to place a micro market instead of a vending machine? What are the differences between vending machines and micro markets? 

When should you open a micro market? 

At its core, micro markets are unattended, self-service retail locations that offer a cost-effective and convenient range of goods to consumers. Much like a vending machine, but with more product options and fewer start-up costs. 

Micro markets work best in a closed-loop environment — like an office or warehouse break room that has regular traffic and little competition. Ideally, you want a customer base of 150 to 200+ people. This substantial number of potential customers helps offset your set-up costs and higher costs of operation.  

Now, what if you have a location with less traffic? Micro markets are not limited to larger locations and you can run successful micro markets in small spaces. With a compact point-of-sale kiosk, your micro market can fit virtually anywhere.  

Compared to a more traditional vending machine configuration, micro markets offer a larger and more diverse inventory of products. The open availability of options in a micro market tends to drive higher profits as consumers check out more products, more easily. 

Micro markets are often a smart choice for communal offices, living spaces, hotels, distribution centers, cafeteria replacements and more. Outfit any closed-loop environment with a micro market to treat consumers with fresh food, enticing product displays and even a loyalty rewards program. 

When should you install a vending machine? 

While micro markets are becoming a strong option in many locations, there are some areas where a vending machine remains the better choice. Despite routine maintenance and limitations on product offerings, vending machines have additional layers of security that allow you to put them in locations where micro markets may be more exposed to theft and vandalism.  

So, when is vending a better option than a micro market?  

  • Vending is better suited in locations where theft might be of concern. 
  • Vending is operationally more affordable in low-traffic areas. 
  • Vending is ideal in locations where people pass by quickly (i.e., schools and malls). 

Should you deploy both micro markets and vending? 

The short answer? Yes! 

Most operators begin their unattended retail journey with vending, and then expand into micro markets once they’re more established. However, there are no rules on how you run your business. Opportunity is everywhere, and if you can find a location and identify its needs, then you can deploy a mix of both for your business to maximise your profits. 

What you should consider as you grow is how you manage all your vending and micro market locations together. Managing your entire operation on a single software platform will help you streamline your routes, better plan your servicing schedule, and more easily manage your inventory across all locations. Learn how Cantaloupe’s SeedTM vending management system can support your business as you grow — whether you’re sticking to vending or expanding into micro markets. 


Cantaloupe, Inc.

Cantaloupe, Inc. is a digital payments and software services company that provides end-to-end technology solutions for the self-service economy.

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