Self-Service Trends

Why You Should Open a Micro Market Business Right Now

October 11, 2022 | By Cantaloupe, Inc.

Why You Should Open a Micro Market Business Right Now

There’s never been a better time to get into micro markets. 

Micro markets are self-service retail spaces where consumers can purchase fresh food, dry goods, and beverages from open shelves, coolers, or freezers. Think of them as a mix of vending machine, café, and convenience store. 

What would make a micro market so attractive to a traditional vending operator? Fewer startup costs, the ability to offer a larger and more diverse product inventory, and placement flexibility have made micro markets an appealing alternative to vending machines.  

Just look at the numbers: As of 2021, there are more than 25,000 micro markets operating around the world, which are projected to pull in over $3 billion in sales each year.  

Which means that now is the perfect time to add micro markets to your business. 

Offer convenience in unexpected places 

As a vending operator, you already know that sales success is all about location, location, location. 

A micro market can be customized to fit any space, no matter how small or uniquely shaped. They’re particularly advantageous in locations that can’t accommodate cafes or fast-food restaurants and require something more than just a vending machine. Originally, micro markets were established as break room options in offices and warehouses, but they’re particularly useful in locations that have a reliable round-the-clock customer base. Think: 

  • College campuses 
  • Apartment complexes 
  • Hospitals 
  • Hotels 
  • Health clubs 

The flexibility of micro market layouts allows you to think outside the box when it comes to location scouting. 

Lean into a no-contact retail experience 

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, concerns about food safety and preferences for contact-free checkout options were at an all-time high. Those habits have stuck around, especially when it’s time to pay.  

Consumers like micro markets precisely because they provide something like a traditional retail experience without the need to interact with an attendant at checkout. In a micro market, self-checkout kiosks or point-of-sale terminals are set up to accept digital payment options like a credit/debit card, a mobile wallet, or an employer-provided meal card.  

These kiosks can also come with their own mobile apps for customers to scan and pay from their own smartphones and avoid lines at checkout. The right point-of-sale solution allows the customer to control every part of their micro market experience. It’s the ultimate opportunity for an operator to provide more choice, more convenience, and more security. 

Enjoy 24/7 sales 

Because micro markets are unattended, you can serve customers at any time. Access to healthy snacks and meals late at night or in the early morning hours can be a huge boon to students stuck on campus or employees working swing shifts. In a micro market, customers will get the same experience at 2am as they would at 2pm.  

And since you can stock a micro market with more fresh food options, every sale you make in otherwise “off” hours is one you would have lost with a vending machine full of stale candy. If you’re concerned about security, you can implement camera monitoring to deter potential theft or vandalization. 

Follow consumer trends  

Consumers like micro markets for many reasons — and not just for the contactless shopping experience.  

For one, they want more personalized buying experiences. With the right point-of-sale solution, you can set up loyalty programs where customers can accrue points and earn rewards for repeat purchases. Additionally, you can offer incentives based on your customers’ buying habits — for example, an alert on their phone to remind them it’s time for their 3pm snack. The more you engage with the customer as an individual, the more likely your micro-market business will thrive. 

Take advantage of a turn-key business model 

Micro markets are easy to start. Compared to a vending machine, you could save up to $14,000 in upfront investments with a micro market. At the same time, a micro market delivers $1,000 more in sales per month on average than a vending machine. 

And, micro markets are a great way to diversify your growing vending operation. Once you have your first micro market up and running, the business model is easily scalable. Anywhere you see a consumer demand is another location opportunity for your micro market business. 

If you’re ready to expand into micro markets, you can manage them with a tool like Seed MarketsTM. Sales reporting. Route scheduling. Inventory management. Seamlessly integrate micro markets into your vending operation with Cantaloupe. There’s no better time to start than right now. 


Cantaloupe, Inc.

Cantaloupe, Inc. is a digital payments and software services company that provides end-to-end technology solutions for the self-service economy.

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