Posted on: April 27, 2021 | Retailers
The average American buys four bags of packaged ice each year, 80 percent of it between Memorial and Labor Day, according to the FDA. Most of this ice comes from convenience stores’ and other retailers’ supplies of bagged ice. With these wide swings in demand occurring around holidays and unpredictable warm days, as well as problems with theft and product loss, bagged ice presents some challenges for retailers. Is there a better way? Vended ice may be a solution. Take a look at these 7 benefits of vended ice for convenience stores and other retailers.
7 Benefits of Vended Ice for Convenience Stores and Retailers
1. Keeps up with Demand
It can be hard to predict demand spikes for bagged ice. If a holiday is cooler than usual, the weather is rainy, a special event is taking place, or certain days are unexpectedly warm, demand can shift dramatically. It can be frustrating for both customers and business owners to run out of ice too soon on high-demand days.
This is one of the many benefits of vended ice for convenience stores and customers. Ice vending machines attach directly to a water line and continuously create ice, so they can more easily keep up with demand.
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Bagged ice is handled by a lot of different people before it reaches the customer. After it’s made, it has to be shipped, unloaded, stored and then handled by different customers. During this process, the bags can be damaged and the ice can be contaminated.
Ice vended from IHA vending machines go through a thorough Twice Pure filtration process, including reverse osmosis, ultraviolet light cleansing, ozonation and more to eliminate dust, chlorine, minerals, salt and other impurities. Filtration occurs automatically, and afterwards, the consumer gets their ice, with no possibilities for contamination in between.
With bagged ice, some quality issues are inevitable. As the ice melts and refreezes during temperature fluctuations, the bagged ice turned into a single unwieldy block. The bag itself can also tear. Both of these things can result in unhappy customers on hot summer days.
There’s no ice blocks or torn bags with vended ice. This is a great benefit of vended ice for convenience store owners and customers alike. The ice is made and dispensed as needed, so it doesn’t build up and turn into blocks.
4. No Theft
Convenience stores experience losses anywhere from 20 to 30% due to ice theft. Customers may pay for one bag and take two or three, or just take bags from the bunker without paying at all. This can be prevented by locking the ice bunker, but then a staff member has to take time out of their day to unlock the bunker every time a customer wants to make a purchase. This then creates more opportunities for in-store theft, and creates dissatisfied customers as lines grow.
Ice vending machines solve this problem. With ice vending, each customer gets exactly what they pay for, so there’s no potential for theft. This is one of the best advantages of vended ice over bagged ice.
5. Higher Margins
Bagged ice comes with a markup. Before it reaches the convenience store or the consumer, it has to be made in a factory, packaged, kept cold, shipped in a refrigerator truck, and stored. Every step in the chain adds a bit to the price of bagged ice. Vending machine ice goes straight from the machine to the consumer, with no need for markups in between. This means consumers pay less and get more ice.
With no markup due to packaging, shipping and storage, convenience store owners also make higher margins. Convenience store owners who own their ice machines get to pocket the money from every purchase. With minimal maintenance and overhead costs, ice vending machines have a short pay-back period and demand little attention.
6. Increased Traffic
With lower prices, superior sanitation, and a connected rewards program and app, customers seek out ice vending machines and their associated stores. This additional traffic also increases sales for other store items, particularly cold beverages. As customers make these destinations a part of their regular routine, they’re more likely to return for repeat purchases.
7. No Inventory Tracking
Convenience store owners and retailers already have a lot of fast-moving inventory to track and manage. With ice vending machines, there’s no need to track and monitor inventory. The ice is created on-site, as needed, and dispensed. Tracking sales is also easy; use your smartphone to track your sales, and also set maintenance reminders or alerts. You can also compare sales year over year and track trends to see how your machine is performing.
Ice vending machines are growing in popularity across the nation. Many convenience store owners have all of the components they need to increase their margins and simplify their ice sales. With electricity, water, space and demand already available at your location, it’s easy to cut out the middleman and own your own ice machine.
Retailer's Guide to Ice & Water Vending
Traditional bagged ice hasn’t changed in decades. Download the guide to learn how ice and water vending is better for consumers, store managers and retail chain owners.Download the Guide