*NEWS*INK & TONER VENDING MACHINES

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*NEWS*INK & TONER VENDING MACHINES

 user 2005-11-16 at 11:24:00 am Views: 86
  • #13046

    Big-ticket vending: Two success stories
    Traditionally,
    the vending business model works by generating a small amount of profit
    on a large volume of items. You don’t make much money on a single candy
    bar or package of crackers, but the economy of scale kicks in when you
    move thousands of units.
    But there is no reason why unattended
    selling devices like vending machines cannot be used to move bigger,
    higher-margin items. Two companies, San Francisco-based Zoom Systems
    and Sacramento-based WebRaiser Technologies Inc., have demonstrated the
    potential in increasing the amount of sale while maintaining the
    tried-and-true delivery methods.
    Case 1: Zoom Robotic Stores
    Sometimes,
    the solution to an existing problem opens up entirely new vistas of
    opportunity. Such was the case with Zoom Systems, the Australian firm
    founded in 1998 to distribute ink and toner cartridges to large
    corporations and government agencies. Gower Smith, chief executive
    officer for Zoom, found himself staring down a major logistical
    problem: how to properly route and distribute the myriad brands and
    sizes of cartridges to the many different offices in a given facility.
    He
    went to the drawing board and came back with plans for an automated
    supply cabinet that allowed users to select what they needed, when they
    needed it. He later patented the design, hooked up with Hewlett-Packard
    and in 2000 brought the technology to the United States.
    Gower Smith (right) discusses the Zoom Shop with attendees at the 2005 Self-Service & Kiosk Show
    But
    why stop at ink cartridges? In 2004, the company began development of
    the Zoom Robotic Store, the first of which was installed and “opened”
    in March 2005.
    The product selection in any given Zoom Store will
    vary depending on where you see it – consumer electronics, music, gift
    and novelty items, or virtually any other product that isn’t
    prohibitively large. “We have to be able to deliver an iPod or a candle
    or a CD,” Smith said. “All very different shapes.”
    Watching a Zoom
    Store in action is unquestionably impressive. Consumers browse through
    a Web-like storefront via a touchscreen, complete with recommendations
    for related products and detailed product information. Upon checkout, a
    robotic arm swings into action, fetches the products, and delivers them
    to the consumer.
    “Zoom Robotic Shops are highly complex machines
    with many different integrated components,” Smith added. “That always
    presents itself as a challenge. We carefully design and manufacture
    them, but then they’re left alone, unattended in airports, shopping
    malls and hotels. Ensuring reliability was difficult but critical
    before we sent any to market. Successfully achieving consistently
    excellent service has been vital to our continued progress.”
    And
    that progress is moving quickly – Smith said the company will have
    installed 100 of the shops by the end of 2005, and he projects a base
    of 3,000 by 2007.
    “I’m not kidding that people tend to gush when
    talking about them, and since many of our customers are business people
    in airports, they are enthralled by the idea,” Smith said. “More than
    25 percent of customers return to purchase from a Zoom Store again.”