Supermarket vending – for shift workers and insomniac

March 07, 2012

Give shift workers more shopping choices by vending outside of the supermarket.

Sprinkles, a Beverly Hills cupcake shop, believes indulgent shoppers in its area might need a sweet treat anytime of day – so it will dispense them round-the-clock through a street-side vending unit that resembles an ATM. Cute, if they stay fresh.

Food News Today, our sister property, will cover this novelty and its three planned companion sites in New York City later this month.

But the idea got us thinking at The Lempert Report that supermarkets could benefit from vending systems on the outer perimeter of their stores. Staples and treats could be part of the mix to bring new convenience to shift workers (police, fire department and hospital staffs, to name a few) and insomniacs who don’t want to trudge through a 24-hour store they don’t normally visit. 

Single-portion prepared foods and popular refrigerated and frozen foods could sell from these panels too – though in our minds they’d be part of limited assortments to start, enough so people know they have a good chance to meet their needs or satisfy their cravings when the stars are shining. If the prepared foods are healthful (quick one-person meals), they could attract customers many fast feeders won’t get, though we admit this will take some refinement to get right.

More likely, cough-cold remedies and fever reducers in the winter could sell. Or energy drinks for the weekend party crowd. Or diapers, formula or gourmet ice cream anytime of year. Lots of immediate-need items could add to the comfort of the shopping public.

We expect it would be manageable to replenish products on-site. Stores could gain valuable insights from these purchases, especially if patterns emerge from frequent shopper cardholders. Electronic payments would be secure. And, with such a convenience done well, it is possible stores could trim labor costs by closing at, say, 10 p.m instead of 11 p.m.