Giant Vending Machines Sell Groceries to Neighborhoods without a Local Store

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New Retail Formats for New Retail Times
As retailers seek innovation to maintain relevance and loyalty in the shifting consumer landscape, format is becoming one of the more interesting battlegrounds. For many categories the format paradigm offers real opportunity to reinvent a struggling offer to be more relevant to consumers. Larger, smaller, shared between complimentary brands, more convenient, more community centric – there are loads of ways in which an established retail format might be reconfigured.

In the UK Speedy Shop has developed a ‘jumbo vending machine’ format that sells a variety of items like toiletries, groceries, milk, eggs, kitchen items and pet food in neighborhoods without a local store.

Whilst many villages in the UK have become too small to sustain a local shop, the convenience demands of those who live in the village are the same as anyone else – Enter The Speedy Shop concept.

The first machine recently opened in Clifton, Derbyshire, a town that lost its last local store 14 years ago. The Speedy Shop accepts cash and credit cards and its stock is constantly monitored. The machine sends out an email when it is running low on stock. It also has built-in security features such as cameras and alarms to mitigate theft.

The creator behind the brand Peter Fox, who is from the town of Ashbourne, spent almost three years on the design of the machine. He says he had the idea for the machine years ago, but couldn’t find a manufacturer so he decided to build it himself. Fox now has a company called Village Vending which manufactures and operates the Speedy Shops. The company plans to stock machines with local produce where possible, and more machines will be installed in other villages in the next few months. Fox is also in talks with village publicans who are invited to host a machine without having to pay fees.

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With our own little (for the moment at least) pasta bar venture Etto we are taking this philosophy to heart. Our soon to be open second store intentionally experiments with the format of our first store. Whilst doing brilliantly, our first Etto is a 45m2 ‘hole in the wall’ with just 12 seats inside and very little space to perch whilst waiting for your order. Our new store in Malvern has a relatively huge 40+ seats, including areas to dwell whilst waiting for take away or for those in a casual mood. It also has a stone bench top for us to run pasta classes down the track and the potential to have a small retail delicatessen section selling the products we love band cook with. Whilst some have asked us why we would change a successful format that is working so well for the first store, our philosophy is; ‘why wait until something goes wrong to see if there’s a more successful format?’.

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If you’re a retailer with one store or one hundred, we highly recommend a strategic brainstorm session on how you might leverage a different format to better connect with your market, or connect just as well with more of them.

Dave Ansett
Chief Cre­ator of Brands
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