Self-Service Trends

2020: The Emergence of Office Coffee Plus and Pantry Services

February 24, 2020 | By Elyssa Steiner

2020: The Emergence of Office Coffee Plus and Pantry Services

Exclusive Interview with Bradlee Whitson, Operations Manager, K&R Vending

“The paradigm is changing, instead of vending operators being the deliverers of product on the last mile, we are starting to become a solution provider to our clients,” said Bradlee Whitson, Operations Manager at K&R Vending Services.

The start of a new year always presents an opportunity to take a step back and look at the goals for your business in the year ahead, how you plan to get there, and what new innovations you are going to be on the look-out for. We had the opportunity to sit down with a variety of operators to learn about their 2020 goals that will drive their focus in running a better operation. Bradlee Whitson, Operations Manager at K&R Vending Services opened up about his team’s focus and why it is the year of delivery services—office coffee and pantry—for the growth of his business. Here are some of his insights:

“2020 is really the year for office coffee and pantry for us,” said Bradlee. As the workforce is changing and companies are looking at expanding their employee offerings to attract and retain talent, they are looking at additional value-added services. Free lunch is no longer just a “perk,” and the boosts for culture, morale, and productivity are elevating it to a benefit like health care or 401k (1). These changes in employer needs are changing the way Bradlee looks at his business. He is no longer a vending machine operator, but rather he considers his business a deliverer of at-work or at-play solutions to businesses. “To me a vending machine is one medium to which I can deliver a solution—it fits in some spots but not all. Vending machines, micro markets, all of these are tools at my disposal that I can use to find the right solution and offering to fit my customer needs,” said Bradlee.

There are three types of delivery services Bradlee speaks to: traditional office coffee, office coffee plus, and pantry services. He defines standard office coffee as when a client wants traditional coffee like decaf and regular, along with cream, sugar and cups for their break-room. Office coffee plus, is an enhanced OCS offering that includes a little more than just providing coffee to employees. It may include a coffee bar type setup where there are small assortments of pastries or fruit, or a flavor water machine that offers sparkling or still water, all free to the employees. These are the clients who aren’t ready to go full blown pantry but want to provide more than just standard coffee options to their employees. He envisions that his team will be focusing on creating unique offerings that fall into the office coffee plus category since employers are asking for more in what they provide to their employees to stay competitive.

So how will K&R Vending Services look to execute against this 2020 goal? There are three things Bradlee is going to focus on implementing throughout the year:

  1. Putting all of our offerings into one catalog for our clients and sales team. This will be more than a traditional catalog—here are all the different coffees we offer—but rather a brochure that highlights the services they provide. Something tangible to give to prospects and clients.
  2. Look at different technologies to improve our ability to receive web orders. The objective for us to make it frictionless for our clients.
  3. Talk to industry friends, partners, and operators to learn what others are doing in enhancing their OCS offerings. For example, what products are working, what new services are clients requesting, etc. We use shows like NAMA in May to take the opportunity to walk the floor see what’s new and talk to other operators.

“Ultimately, our goal is to leverage existing technologies to offer these services and streamline how we order, fulfill and deliver to our clients,” said Bradlee.

While delivery services are on the growth plan for K&R Vending Services in 2020, Bradlee also shared some insights into trends that have him excited to learn more about in the year ahead. “As we expand our services we have so much data, and part of the challenge is I am spending hours going through data to try and uncover trends and information, leaving me running out of time to actually execute,” said Bradlee. Thus, he is always keeping an eye on business intelligent tools to drive faster, more insightful decision making. With the evolving changes in technology Bradlee said data is the key to providing them the insights on what is working and what needs refinement, and/or exiting due to it just not providing an ROI back to his business. His biggest advice to other operators based on his learnings over the last 5 years is to always be open to trying new things, whether it’s products, technologies, etc. He realized if he would have said no to micro markets he wouldn’t have 70+ markets today, so really just watching industry trends and being open to validating them in his business is key to his success.

Want to hear more of the interview? Listen Now

About K&R Vending Services: K&R Vending Services is a family owned vending, micro market, office coffee and pantry services business that operates throughout New Jersey, Delaware and Eastern Pennsylvania. Founded and started in 1978 by Konrad Stutzmann and his brother Richard with only 10 vending machines, today K&R Vending Services manages over 1,400 vending machines, 70 micro markets, 200 delivery points and 12 pantry locations. K&R has always embraced technology to evolve its services and reach new customers across the tri-state area.



Elyssa Steiner

Chief Marketing Officer

Elyssa has over 10 years in the self-service retail industry and was among the first to be a part of launching the micro market concept into the vending channel. She is passionate about sharing both her knowledge in self-service retail and marketing with industry associations such as NAMA and Frost and Sullivan’s Marketing professionals.

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