Micro Markets–Micro Profits?


Micro markets have been the buzzword of the year in vending and small business circles. They offer many conveniences over traditional storefronts, to be sure, as well as the shiny veneer of any new sales modality. However, does the operational reality actually reflect the tremendous profitability that has been touted? U-Select-It looks at the facts.

The truth is that, like any business, micro markets come with their own set of hidden costs. These unexpected costs eat away at profits, turning what seemed like a golden opportunity into a money pit.

  • Labor. One of the purported benefits of micro markets is the low labor costs. But these costs are only lower than storefront sales, and when compared to traditional vending, the labor costs are significantly higher as more training and time are involved in properly merchandising the micro market.
  • Theft. Micro markets are designed with open floor plans so consumers can browse for their purchases. Without a sales staff on site, though, the temptation to pilfer items can be overwhelming to some buyers. Some micro market owners attempt to combat these tendencies by installing expensive surveillance equipment but this presents the same problem–without a human being watching the security footage, there is no consequence or deterrent.
  • Inventory. Another supposed advantage of the micro market model is that the owner can merely stop by, replace sold items, remove stale products, and be on his or her way, quickly and efficiently, often to another site or full-time employment. The reality is that the vast number of items a typical micro market carries require an equivalent amount of time spent managing data and pricing. Time is money, and micro markets can quickly turn into tremendous time sucks. Carrying fresh produce and any other easily spoiled or short shelf life products increases waste, and with that comes increased costs.

In the end, micro markets have their own advantages. For most owners, however, those advantages are far outweighed by the higher operating costs and lower profits when compared to traditional vending options from an established and successful vending machine distributor like U-Select-It.