Interview • 01.06.2012
Vending Machines: Tested in Sweden, now on the German Market
Interview with Juan Luis Ayo, Sales and Marketing Manager Azkoyen
In the last 15 years the German division of Azkoyen has been successful through the market for cigarette vending machines. However, with the current anti-smoking legislation taking hold revenue has taken a hit. To counter these trends Azkoyen has broadened its range with new vending systems, for example, with machines dispensing hot beverages. This spring, for the first time, the company was an exhibitor at the EuroCIS where they displayed new vending systems. These systems dispense products that have already been selected in the shop and purchased at the register. They have been operating in Sweden and are now ready for launch in the broader European market.
You decided to participate in the EuroCIS this year rather last minute. What led to this late decision?
In the last two years Azkoyen was developing a retail line, already tested in Sweden since October last year. As we met more and more companies interested in our solution, we decided the market was ready to show the units at EuroCIS.
Was it worth the trip?
Yes, it was very interesting, not only as far as Germany is concerned but for some other countries where these solutions are in demand. In Germany we have three channels where we are actively engaged: tobacco operators, supermarkets and gas stations.
Azkoyen produces cigarette vending machines. Are you broadening your portfolio?
Azkoyen is a general vending machines manufacturer though traditionally specialized in tobacco vending units. Our retail units are not only for tobacco but for any kind of products with or without cooling needs.The tobacco vending business, due to the laws, is changing very quickly. Azkoyen develops machines that can be used with advertising today, at least in Germany. In foreign markets it is not as easy to use the faces for advertising even when the product is in the actual vending machine.
Your competition, Vensafe, was not at the EuroCIS this year. What sets you apart from the Norwegian company?
Vensafe has been in the market about 10 years longer than we have. We are now starting to launch our product range where the customer receives merchandise that has been paid for at the checkout with a ticket received by the cashier. We have vast experience in the production of the varying vending solutions, dispensing a broad range of products. The hardware and software are made by Azkoyen. The basis of our retail units is our range of snack vending machines.
Which retailers are you trying to reach with the presentation of your Vending Systems?
The case of tobacco is straightforward as we offer multiple solutions for any application. The other machines are totally flexible with freedom from shape, size, or weight restrictions of the vended products, because we use a spiral system to bring the product to the point of removal by the customer. Temperature regulation is of course always possible when needed for specific applications.
Is there a chance for a reduction in revenue when the customer cannot handle the specific product they will be purchasing?
The machine is just a dispensing unit. The real buying point is the selection kiosk where you can make it attractive. When installed in good places, the sales rate should be at least the same as selling manually. At the decision point you can interact with the customer. This area can be filled with high value products. The objective is to eliminate shrinkage, reduce the stock of products at the decision point thereby increasing profitability.
There are already snack and beverage vending machines in a wide variety of locations. Is the market already saturated?
The market in the traditional vending is mature, but replacement continues to be very interesting. On the other hand there are many new vending units for non-traditional purposes like meat, milk, etc. We are continually providing new units to schools for the dispensing of school milk. We have had a very active market in Bavaria and Baden-Wuerttemberg. In supermarkets and convenience stores the potential for contained sales systems is immense.
The times are long gone that a coffee machine mixes hot water and coffee crystals. Are customers prepared to pay more at vending machines than in days past?
The vending machine image has been changing a lot in the last years. Now we can dispense quality products through vending machines in accordance with all the hygienic rules of the European Community. In my home town there are fresh milk dispensers at farm houses, barbecue meet in front of a meet shop, fresh sea foods in front of a fish shop, etc.The vending operators guarantee their quality through better vending systems. They promote these offerings and can actually raise expectations of customers through this consistent quality.
Finally, in what ways does your company remain ‘Spanish’?
Azkoyen was founded in the middle of an agricultural area in Peralta. Even today, being multinational with factories in Germany, U.K. and Italy, from our head quarter offices you can see a dairy farm, all kind of produce fields, wine, olive trees, wind mills, etc. But our management is international. Through this combination we create a very dynamic corporate culture.
Interview: René Schellbach, iXtenso.com
31350 Peralta, Navarra