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Micro markets have become increasingly popular over the past few years due to their simplicity and significant benefits they offer, such as increasing revenue and decreasing labor costs. They can even come pre-built, which reduces the guess work and labor involved in installation. A micro market may be the perfect answer to labor shortages or vending problems.

Starting with the Basics: What Are Micro Markets?

Micro markets are retail environments that don't require employee attendants. Instead, customers can select products from shelves and open coolers then use a self-checkout kiosk or other cashless payment system to complete their transaction.

People often compare micro markets to vending machines because of their similarities in the self-service format and versatile locations. However, micro markets are more complex than vending machines because they offer more options for consumers and create a more positive atmosphere because of the ability to interact with products before selecting items. Customers also tend to prefer micro markets because they have more control over their shopping experience.

Micro Markets vs. Vending Machines

Here's a closer look at how micro markets and vending machines differ and why micro markets are dominating the industry.

Micro Markets
  • Provide open shelving
  • Offer larger assortment of food, beverages, sundries, etc.
  • Are restocked daily
  • Include diverse payment options such as coupons and loyalty cards
Vending Machines
  • Keep products enclosed
  • Restocked on a strict schedule Offer fewer sections
  • Offer fewer sections
  • Run out of top selling items quickly
  • Use unreliable product dispensers
bulk food bins

Micro Markets: A Passing Fad or Here to Stay?

Global challenges have always laid the groundwork for some of the most innovative advancements in society. The most recent challenges faced by industries worldwide were brought on by COVID-19.

However, the food retail, hospitality, healthcare, and education industries have found a solution to many of their new consumer-related challenges by expanding their use of micro markets to offer a convenient and contactless shopping option.

Quick Facts About Micro Markets

26,000 Micro Markets in 2022
In just 7 years the number of micro market locations has increased by ~21,000.

$20 Per Customer
Average monthly profits.

7.5 Months
Average time to break even on investment

How Does Your Industry Leverage Micro Markets?

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Healthcare Facilities

Hospitals and senior living facilities can use micro markets to accommodate patients and staff who can't leave the facilities and run to a local store for food and beverages throughout the day. Today more than ever, this is a challenge as hospitals are stricter on their visitor policies to decrease the spread of germs—especially related to COVID-19.

With micro markets, residents, patients, and family members have a convenient option for picking up snacks when the dining hall is closed. In addition, the staff that works long hours can also grab energy drinks or coffee throughout the day to improve their alertness and keep them motivated while battling higher than average hospitalization rates.

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K-12 Schools and Higher Education

Students are a prime market for convenient and fast on-the-go retail options. Elementary schools, colleges, and universities have always been a hotspot for vending machines and grab-and-go stores as students jump between classes.

Micro markets are another place for students to get healthy snacks and a quick pick-me-up like coffee without wasting time driving to a store. In education, micro markets can expand beyond just food. They can also sell essential products like pencils, paper, sticky notes, phone chargers, and batteries.

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Grocery Stores and Food Retailers

If grocery stores already sell food, why do they need a micro market? Food retail is still a popular location for micro market and vending options because of their convenience. These locations offer an easy place for retail food staff to grab a snack during their shift without having to go through long lines and walk down dozens of aisles. It is also a convenient location for shoppers to stop on their way in or out of the store. They can grab a small single-serve snack or beverage in the middle of running errands. Additionally, gas station stores are another a popular food retail spot for micro markets that appeals to travelers or workers on their way to the office.

Don't forget: as grocery stores and general retailers continue to blend into one industry (think Target, Kroger, Publix, etc.), your micro market can also sell apparel, gift shop items, and other goods.

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Hotels and Hospitality Organizations

Hotels and motels will often have a micro market in their lobby that allows guests to grab a quick snack or beverage without having to leave the building. The open layout of micro markets is also ideal for selling other everyday items travelers need during their stay – like small toiletries, batteries, charging cables, and over-the-counter medications.

There are dozens of other prime locations for micro markets in addition to the four industries previously covered, including:

  • Office Buildings and Manufacturing Facilities
  • Gyms and Fitness Centers
  • Airports and train stations
  • Apartment Complexes

To read the complete micro market guide, including more about the benefits of micro markets, download it for free here.

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Account Development Managers

Meet Hubert

Whether your business is dealing with serious labor shortage issues, looking for ways to increase revenue, or even if you just appreciate the simplicity of a micro market—we're here to help. An experienced customer service representative from Hubert can assist you in selecting the ideal micro market for your businesses.

Want to learn more? Talk to an expert.