As an important daily consumer category, fresh produce is becoming the focus of an increasing number of companies, and there is little doubt about the bright prospects of the fruit market. Public data shows that the current fruit consumption in China is still very low, at less than 60 kilograms per capita per year. In 2021, the market size is expected to reach 2,587.25 billion yuan, and the public's consumer demand for fruit is expanding.
However, with the traditional business model, the fruit business is no easy feat. The cost of rent, labor, and fruit loss greatly reduces the profit margin of fruit shops, which also puts more and more pressure on traders.
Unmanned retail, a new business model, is a promising concept that may improve floor efficiency and reduce costs. China has been trialing this new business format for many years, and related business models and technical means have become more mature. Data from Kantar and Qianzhan Industrial Economic Research Institute shows that vending machines currently have the highest market share in unmanned retail, accounting for as high as 85%.
Smart vending machines may become an area of focus among startups, mainly due to the following reasons:
First of all, the unmanned retail form caters to the consumption habits of modern young people whose time is fragmented, so it saves them time and improves efficiency. Moreover, compared with purchasing from people, purchasing from machines is easier and faster, which means the industry has a large number of potential consumer users.
Secondly, getting closer to consumers has become an important topic for modern retail, and smart vending machines are even closers to consumers than convenience stores and vegetable markets, because users are able to pick up their groceries without leaving their residential communities.
Moreover, the market has been educated about smart vending machines. During the pandemic, unmanned retail forms such as contactless delivery have laid the foundation for popularizing vending machines. Many people have used various types of vending machines, which has also reduced the cost of market education.
Finally, by accurately locating in residential communities, sales data also become more accurate. A residential community provide a sales scenario with a fixed population, which is convenient for businesses to fine-tune their operations and cater to the needs of the residents of each communities.
It can be said that vending machines still have a lot of room for growth in the future, which is why some people claim that in the next 3-5 years, smart vending machines will occupy half of the fruit retail sales channels. With the increase in labor costs, unmanned retail business formats, including vending machines and unmanned convenience stores, will appear in many countries. Vending machines, with small investment, light weight, and scalability, is expected to become a new hot item among startups.