Like many of the digital advances of the last decade, we have seen a blending of customer preferences to create innovative and creative businesses and services.

One of the fastest growing of these is micro markets, which combine accessibility, flexibility, and choice with the efficiency and convenience of a quick-service business. Micro markets are mainly driven by food-service offerings, but they can also provide other grab-and-go products. They supplement vending machines with inviting locations stocked with fresh snacks, meals, and refreshments in an open layout.

So what exactly are micro markets, and why are businesses and customers falling in love with them?

What Are Micro Markets?

Micro markets are unattended retail stores that can be placed in workplaces, office buildings, hospitals, schools, airports, and more, often with high foot traffic. Unlike traditional stores aided by an attendant, micro markets rely on a system of honesty in which buyers are expected to handle their own purchases.

When it’s time to check out, consumers can choose from various payment options, including kiosks, cashless payments, contactless digital payments, mobile payments, gift cards, and more.

Micro markets are often found in shared spaces in “closed” environments—such as co-working locations, multi-family residential complexes, and hotels. However, they can also be found in airports and retail locations, helping provide quick service to customers in a hurry.

Even better? Micro markets are often open 24/7, allowing customers to get products when they need them and operators to generate revenue around the clock.

How Micro Markets Can Deliver for Your Customers

So why are customers excited about micro markets? In addition to flexible payment options and around-the-clock convenience, customers also appreciate:

  • Freshly prepared foods: Thanks to refrigerated shelving, micro markets can offer customers healthier and fresher food options in addition to prepackaged food, snacks, and beverages.
  • More variety: Because micro markets can cover several hundred square feet or more, micro markets can offer a range of products to fit their customer bases, such as office supplies or toiletries.
  • Easy access: Micro markets require less infrastructure than a traditional store, meaning they can fit into existing spaces in hotels, offices, gyms, and hospitals, making them easy to access.

The Benefits of Micro Markets for Your Business

Whether you’re a business owner looking to expand into new markets or you own a large commercial space with regular foot traffic, micro markets can be a great investment in your operation. Here are some of the benefits: 

Combat labor shortages.

Opening a new micro market or converting an existing small convenience shop can help managers overcome the challenges of labor shortages. Because of advances in shelf management technology, micro market operators can use sensors on product displays to manage their business remotely and autonomously. If needed, operators receive warnings of issues, such as a micro market kiosk getting unplugged, products running low, or temperatures falling out of certain ranges, allowing owners to preempt operational malfunctions and prevent revenue loss.

Serve a wider audience with smaller ongoing costs.

Because micro markets can be placed in smaller areas, utilize shelf management technology, and do not need to be staffed, operators can expand their business and meet customers where they are without having a large upfront capital investment and extensive operating costs

In fact, according to trade analysts, the average profit of running a vending machine is 1.15 percent, whereas a micro market provides 17 percent profit. One reason for this is that buyers are willing to pay more for customer experience micro markets offer, meaning operators can charge more for the same products

Gain more accessibility for more loyal customers.

Thanks to their ability to offer around-the-clock access and diverse, fresh products, micro markets enjoy more return customers than traditional vending machines. 

Traditional vending businesses receive 1.9 daily visits, whereas a micro market location sees 2.3 daily visits. Similarly, the daily purchase frequency for micro markets is also higher, reaching 1.2 visits per day, whereas vending machines average 0.7.

Stay Ahead of the Latest Industry Trends

The rise in popularity of micro markets exemplifies many trends business owners have seen firsthand in the last few years, including customer demand for flexibility in offerings, payments, hours, and locations. 

Want to stay ahead of the next big trend?

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