Working with its customers, and with the ultimate consumer as the focus of its activities, MEI believes it is helping to make progress towards a prosperous future for the vending industry. This year has seen the launch of the MEI CASHFLOW™ 7000 series of change-givers and the re-introduction of its MEI EASITRAX™ vending management system (VMS) into the UK market.
According to European Marketing Director Richard Gibson these products serve a fundamental and growing requirement for information in the industry. He says: “Successful businesses, particularly in highly competitive segments like vending, obviously depend on being effective, and one key to this is being able to get hold of the right management information. Vending operators are realising that having timely information can be a powerful management tool. The future will see companies having more tools to gather and use that information in a way which increases sales, reduces costs and increases profitability.
“The future of vending is clearly about enhancing the consumer experience. While MEI does not operate or manufacture machines, we feel we still have an important role to play. For MEI consumer satisfaction has always been about accepting the cash consumers have in their pockets, ensuring change is always available and, more recently, ensuring the change given back is optimal: the minimum number of coins, because feedback says walking away from a machine with a large handful of coins diminishes the experience.
“Now with MEI EASITRAX, we believe we can take this further, we can help the operator to ensure that the machine always has product available and, more than this, help them to ensure that this is the product the consumer wants. We can also highlight and give early warning of machine issues. This also provides operational benefits and savings, increasing operator profitability, because we know that the future of MEI's business is totally dependent on developing solutions that increase the profitability of our customers.
“This is all about putting the consumer at the centre of everything we do. The information we gather should help us to understand consumer needs and respond to them. The future is not about technology for technology’s sake, but technology which increases our understanding and response to the consumer.”
MEI EASITRAX vending management system has been in use by a small number of UK-based vending operators since 2003. They have been helping the company to refine the system, and a number of additional features will be announced over the next few months. However, the principles remain the same: information is collected at each stage of the operation from warehouse to vending machine. This is then collated allowing the operator to eliminate inefficiency and waste.
More importantly it also helps the operator to provide the right products, in the right locations and to merchandise them in the best possible way. MEI EASITRAX™ includes a ‘planogram’ function which helps route people to lay out products in the optimum way to encourage sales.
Where appropriate, gathering information from machines can be speeded up using telemetry. MEI has recently entered into an agreement with leading telemetry solutions provider Vianet to offer its customers remote information management as part of the MEI EASITRAX™ system.
As far as change-givers are concerned, high acceptance rates, security and reliability continue to be critical and will undoubtedly improve as time goes on. However, the differences that single out MEI’s products will lie in adding value, reducing the overall cost of ownership and increasing operator profitability. The recently launched MEI CASHFLOW™ 7900 will be appearing in more and more vending machines in the UK. It already accounts for 100 per cent of MEI sales in mainland Europe.
David Bowman, MEI’s Sales Manager for Northern Europe, says: “The MEI CASHFLOW™ 7900 has a number of value-added features which put it at the cutting edge of technology. Its five tubes, use of sonar, and innovative onboard software make it possible to reduce the float in the machine, while increasing customer satisfaction. It has an easy-to-use diagnostic display, which enables faults to be fixed by route people – reducing maintenance costs – and it can provide audit information to improve business efficiencies and reduce shrinkage.”
MEI believes that these additional features, which improve profitability today, while reducing the long-term cost of ownership, show the way forward for the industry. As Richard Gibson says: “We are all in business to serve the needs of consumers profitably. Every component and system must work together to this end and MEI must work with its customers – vending operators and OEMs - towards the same goal.”
MEI is one of the world's largest manufacturers of electronic coin changers, bill acceptors, cashless payment systems, and other unattended transaction systems. Its products are currently in widespread use in the vending, soft drink, gaming, amusement, transportation and retail markets. You can find more information about MEI at www.meigroup.com.
For further information contact The Ceres Partnership:
Peter Crowe, +44 (0)1604 654260/+44 (0)7967 504034
Francesca Joslyn, +44 (0)1604 654260/+44 (0) 07855 263209