What has Data Ever Done for You?
What should data be doing for your vending business?
Vending International magazine asked Simon Black, our Managing Director what lies ahead for our sector, with data growing ever more key to success.
Me personally? I love data. It’s my life and blood. I love coding, and I am passionate about the rigours of detail - seeing things through so that everything ties together. Seamless and watertight, with every byte of data in place and under control, to play its role and pay its way. But I appreciate that others are not so deeply involved. That’s why the diagram here was born. To breathe life into what great data can do for your vending business. You can look at it in various ways, all of them valid. Each sphere is an important aspect of successful vending today, and is significant in its own right. Good data will improve any of them in isolation.
Each is connected - with data flowing around the system to make things better in more than one sphere. And the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Improved efficiency, for example, adds to each of the other spheres, and together the combined value grows, with stakeholders gaining across the board – including employees, owners and clients. This principle goes beyond theory, or a 3D diagram. It works in the hard-nosed commercial world of vending today, delivering tangible benefits amidst fierce competition.
Some examples that are close to my heart include:
• Clients who now see single walk as the norm
• Operators whose takings per visit are up, without any sacrifice in customer service
• Companies for whom pre-packing is delivering huge efficiencies across the operation
• Customers transforming from pre-set routines to visit-on-demand
• Businesses that have advanced as far as semi-automated picking,
with data from machines integrating into computerised warehouse systems.
All of these organisations are making data work harder. They have taken steps along a journey of improvement, to make things better.
WHERE HAS DATA BEEN MOST SUCCESSFUL?
Where companies have engaged with the data and what it shows, rather than fighting back against it. It takes a change in mindset to break with the ways of the past. For example, to believe that a machine does not need a visit right now, even when that goes against the routine schedules of the past.
HOW FAR COULD/SHOULD YOU GO IN YOUR BUSINESS?
This is up to you - to suit the priorities of your operation and your client base. Once you have the data, you have the power to decide how best it will be deployed, and at what pace. Without it, you are driving blindfolded. Take a look at what is happening elsewhere in the world. At the recent Venditalia exhibition, I saw progress to the stage where data is becoming an expectation - almost a right - because of the added value it brings. And that is the direction of travel. To borrow from another sector, just look at how Uber is transforming taxi travel worldwide. A whole sector is being revolutionised - by data.
So if it makes sense for vending in other geographies, why do we seem to be lagging behind in the UK? Perhaps up to now the UK vending sector has not felt the need to do things differently. However times are changing, and if you don’t seize the initiative, you can be sure that someone else will be grabbing a lead to put the advantages in place while they still have time.
Maybe now is the right time for you?
Published 21st July 2016
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