From the Editor: Brave new world
By Naomi Szeben
Back to School” felt very different this year. Where parents would normally send off their children to school for the first time with some tears, this autumn had even seasoned parents sweating. Between worries about hygiene and social distance in crowded classrooms, many parents and teachers were leery about college, and even more so for their children under the age of eighteen.
This means a new world for unattended sales; machines that were considering going cashless have new impetus for change. Touchless technology was originally designed to present safety in the form of digital currency: Without large bags of cash to transport, an operator was not at risk of robbery. Today’s definition of safety is hygiene not theft protection. The advantage is being COVID-free, not just higher-ticket items.
The “new normal” routine involves the usual checklist prior to leaving home (keys, phone, wallet) but with new additions: Hand sanitizer, gloves and mask. Should any of them be lost en route or forgotten at home could mean being turned away at the door, or forced to buy something nearby…if available.
The cover story follows a vending entrepreneur who saw a market need for readily available, disposable PPE (personal protection equipment.) Klear vending machines are positioned conveniently in some subway entrances and malls, making everyday transactions and commuting easier for those who forgot or lost their safety gear. Convenience is no longer about impulse purchases but about providing safety and hygiene to potential customers.
Safety for some meant cancelling much-anticipated trade shows. CAMA and the Coffee, Tea and Water Show had to be cancelled to provide safety for members, attendees and visitors alike. Disappointing as it is, there is an element of fear around climbing numbers and the long-term health effects of those infected with the Coronavirus.
This new normal requires some brave, new thinking. The industry is witnessing a new approach to work spaces and the services that they might require. Office coffee services and micro-markets will have to change: We need to learn to adapt in order to survive. Read on how NAMA’s round table discussed ways such services are trying to make lives easier for everyone involved.
Within these pages you’ll read about innovators who have make healthier food choices as one way of coping with new consumer demands. People are more concerned than ever about their health, and if they can’t personally guarantee they will not be infected with the Coronavirus, more people are making the choice to stay as healthy as they can through other means. Consumer studies are indicating that dietary choices are making a shift towards more natural, lower-fat, clean label options. While many are aware there is no cure for the pandemic, at least they can strengthen their immune systems by staying as healthy as they can.
This means that many in unattended sales can provide services and products to support growing need for healthy snacks, more safety equipment and reassure clients that they are following sanitary precautions closely. Providing clear communication towards staff and customers has never been more crucial to maintaining good business practices.
Together, we will attend virtual meetings, visit online trade shows, and explore options to keep ourselves and our businesses as healthy as possible. Here’s hoping that this last edition of Canadian Vending for 2020 will be the last that we hear of the pandemic. I hope that the next edition, the Winter 2021 issue will speak more optimistically of live shows, a cure for the virus, and a return to “the old normal.”
In the meantime, we will be brave. Let’s look to the innovators who are trying to make the world if not better, at least safer for everyone.