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Inventory Management

Bulk vending inventory management is more art than science. There are so many variables to take into consideration that my best advice is to keep it simple until you are comfortable enough to judge what works for you. If you’re new to bulk vending here are some easy ways to keep it simple:

Streamlined Product-Line – Don’t start out trying to have a little bit of everything, keep the types of products you sell basic but with enough variety for some optimized product placement. For example my choice of product lines when I first started out: 1” Dubble Bubble Gumballs, 1” Splat Jawbreakers, Skittles and Cotton Candy candies.

The advantages to my streamlined product line is I have enough variety, regardless of the location I place, for adults, kids or families. I always have a product to sell that fits the location. It also made rotating product out from one location to another much easier. I knew I already had another machine using the same product type to relocate any unused product too. Of course as you add more bulk vending machines to your route, you can introduce new and different products, a few at a time, to your product-line.

Minimal Refill Inventory – I never know how much each machine will use in inventory, but I do know I don’t want to waste money and cut into profits from throwing out stale product. So I keep a minimal amount of product on hand for refills.

One advantage to having a streamlined product-line with minimal refill inventory is keeping 1-2 cases of each product is normally more than sufficient for my operation currently, but as you grow you can increase as needed.

Another trick I use, almost all suppliers can have my order shipped to me in about 4 days, so if I happen to have a few machines that were heavily used, I can fill them partially, using my older inventory, place my order and go back in a few days to fill them the rest of the way.

One down-side is not getting bulk discount pricing on bulk products but until you get to the point where you have enough machines to actually sale 85 cases in a timely manner, or whatever your suppliers minimum order requires, you are taking a constant chance of having to throw away stale product and negating any benefits to bulk discount pricing.

INVENTORY MANAGEMENT FOR PERISHABLE BULK VENDING PRODUCTS

This includes any product with a shelf life; gum, candy, nuts, etc… Always rotate your product out so you are using the oldest first. Know the approximate shelf life of your products and compare them to the manufacturers date, usually listed on the case, and test for freshness regularly. It’s also a good idea, with each service, to test the freshness of your products, in use, before refilling. You can replace them with new product if needed, avoiding any complaints.

Avoid extreme heat and cold for all perishable products, both will quickly degrade your products and make them unusable, room temperature is normally recommended. The one exception to this is nuts, the shelf life for nuts is extended by refrigeration, if you have the capabilities to store them in a refrigerated environment.

INVENTORY MANAGEMENT FOR NON-PERISHABLE BULK VENDING PRODUCTS

Products that don’t have a shelf life are great; you can simply store them and use as needed. My only advice is to try and keep them stored somewhere that is temperature controlled and free from dirt, dust and rodents. Also keep these out of direct sunlight as it will fade most items over time, making them unsellable.

 

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