The concept at the core of both refreshment solutions is very similar – to feed employees within the workplace in a fast and effective way. Having said that, there are some stark contrasts between a micro market and a vending machine.
Traditionally businesses have relied on vending machines to provide their employees with a snacking option throughout the day but in recent years the micro market has taken precedence thanks to its capacity to provide much more than just quick, easy food. So, what are the real differences between the micro market model and vending?
The history of the vending machine
In modern times it’s easy to take the humble vending machine for granted, but believe it or not they actually have a fairly colourful past. Postcard vending machines were first introduced in the UK in the early 1880s and it wasn’t long before they were commonplace in railway stations all across England. As is the case generally, the US got ahead of the UK and introduced refrigerated vending soda machines in gas stations in the 1930s. Britain lagged behind, with little in the vending industry bar chocolate machines on railway platforms. As things progressed and vending machines offering hot drinks were offered in the workplace, resistance was met from the tea lady, with the role under this name first introduced during the Second World War. Trade unions fought back and as a result automatic vending was not integrated into office life fully until the 1980s. Today vending machines are able to offer a variety of hot and cold drinks and snacks, but has the model become outdated, especially given the fact that people are trying to move away from diets that rely too heavily on traditional types of convenience food?
The introduction of the Micro Market model
The idea for the Micro Market was conceived and introduced in 2015 and in the past five years they have replaced lots of vending machines across companies all over the world. The Micro Market is unique in the sense that it looks like a modern convenience store but has some of the functionality of vending and refreshment services. A Micro Market is unattended and can include a fresh bean to cup coffee machine, an open rack display, refrigerator, freezer, and a self-service till.
Higher volume of products
While a traditional vending machine might only have the capacity for around 40 products, your average Micro Market is going to be able to stock anywhere between 150-400 products, meaning that employees are going to benefit from much more choice. Because of this, there is much more opportunity for a Micro Market to cater to varying different dietary requirements (gluten-free, vegan etc.).
Fresher, more healthful options with a Micro Market
It’s no secret that people are becoming more interested in health and the foods that they consume and for those that are health conscious, a micro market is a great option. Fresh food options are more readily available because the product can be restocked daily, unlike a vending machine that will typically have pre-packaged food. Because of this, a micro market has the advantage of being both convenient and healthy. It’s important that business owners and managers consider the benefits that this can have for their business. Employees consuming healthier food items and avoiding processed items will likely be able to concentrate on tasks better, will feel better and will subsequently be able to achieve more at work.
Layout, space, and sociability
While vending machines tend to be placed in meaningful places in offices, the space around them is rarely maximised to create a social area for employees to relax. The opposite is true for micro markets, which will encompass breakout spaces where people can catch up with colleagues, unwind and even hold informal meetings. Micro markets can be seen as a hub that employees can get together around, whereas a vending machine lacks the same social benefits.
There are also the benefits of having attractive shelves and sleek countertops with a Micro Market and the fact that this can give a good outward impression of a business to interested parties. For example, a client-facing business that is often having meetings on their premises will benefit from a Micro Market because it gives the business a progressive, modern appearance and also makes it seem as though the business is one that is invested in health and the quality of life for employees. In contrast to this, offices with a number of vending machines may look outdated.
A different kind of self-service
Clearly, there are a number of distinguishable differences between traditional vending machines and a Micro Market. Though the vending machine is a choice that has been around much longer, some might argue that its offering has become outdated in terms of choice, scope and its place in modern working environments. The Micro Market has the benefit of acting as a ‘hub’ within the workplace, creating somewhere not only for employees to refuel but to socialise too. Meetings of all kinds can take place around a Micro Market and it gives businesses the opportunity to convey their forward-thinking nature and commitment to maintaining high levels of morale and wellbeing for their employees.