I thought I would give a review since I have had a pretty positive experience with this software. I have actually had the software for over a year now but I barely used it for the first 10+ months. Mostly, I would spend a few minutes every couple of weeks or months and just dabble with it and learn how it all works. For those who have used it before, you already know how much time it takes just for the data entry portion of things. I have added about one hundred machines, almost half as many locations, several "routes", over 100 products, and LOTS and LOTS of selections for every machine. Every product needs certain details to make the software functional, and the more details you add, the more data you can collect later. It takes a LOT of work to put all of the data in there but there are some benefits I will get to later.
About 2 months ago, I decided to take advantage of USA Technology's quickstart program and I leased 10 units. The main purpose of this was 2-fold -- to add card readers to accounts that I thought would benefit from it, and to give myself a reason to actually go out there and install them (because the service fees start almost immediately, and I hate fees). In addition to that, I decided to focus on the software side of things as well. It took me the greater part of November just to install all of the machines, products, locations, and everything else into the software. I still keep adding more as I go, but the bulk of it is done. I then upgraded the software to take advantage of the telemetry which is the primary thing I needed to make everything work. For about $80/month for their package that is for up-to 300 machines, it seemed like a total bargain to me when I think par level is in the range of $8/machine for telemetry. In other words, if you have say.. over 20 machines with telemetry, this package will likely pay for itself as you add more machines since the price is fixed for the entire company as opposed to par level which is per-machine.
Once I had most of the data entry down, I began detailing each machine. It wasn't easy because I had just started learning things and you really NEED to input EVERY item in the machine. The first couple times you input all of the data, it takes a long time (or seems like it). Generally, I would go to my locations, take pictures of each tray so I knew WHAT was in the selections and HOW many were in there, and then I would go home and make sure I had all of the inventory in the software and then I would add everything accordingly to the software. Mind you, you have to add all of the selections to each machine too!! Adding the details to the selections is the hardest part because you need to add the selection (ie. A1), type in the max capacity (ie. 10), and say what is in it (ie. product 37, LSS Lays). Once you have created an entire machine for a specific model (ie. AP 7600) it is easiest to copy those columns to other machines with the same setup, such as other AP 7600s, AP 6600s, AP 4/5000's, National 145's and so on. Many snack machines are different (ie. tray A is A1, A2, A3, etc.. or maybe A1, A3, A5, etc.. or even A0, A2, A4, etc..) so you have to keep modifying as you go, but once you create a whole new machine, you can just copy it. What I did was start with models and then copy them to all machines with that model, so all AP 7600s have the same setup. Then, I modified that machine for a USI and copied that to all other USI machines and so on.... It took a LOT of work, seriously...
Once I had most of the details for my machines recorded (including all selections, what's in it, how many, etc..) I could FINALLY start pre-kitting. It was great to be able to see, remotely, what was selling at what locations.. specifically for locations with telemetry. It was exciting to be able to see in real time what was selling and how fast. I quickly learned that some items sold out in the first few days after I serviced them and I NEVER knew that because I often sold out so many other selections anyway. For example, a few locations were always low on pastries. I quickly realized that they went through chocolate cupcakes and chocolate donuts in the first few days and only started eating the other pastries once those were gone. In learning this, I realized that I had some slower selections that I could just remove and add more of those items to and obviously increase my sales, especially since they spent way more time buying the remainder of the "left-over" pastries. I also realized just how slowly some other products sold. Yes, I knew that 7up at location X was a slow seller but I didn't realize I only sold maybe 1 bottle every 2 weeks. Because of this, I am going to just remove it and add another row of a higher-selling item to increase my service cycle if possible. I took full advantage of this knowledge and I began pre-kitting on-site and adding things as needed. So, if I sold 22 diet coke at a location with a capacity of 44 bottles, obviously I had 22 diet on my cart in addition to other items. However, I also decided to remove some items to control sell-by dates because I could clearly see just how many were selling and how many were in there.
The benefits of this software (and any other vending software) is huge IF you do the work necessary. You can clearly see what sells the best and how fast it sells, you can easily adjust your selections to add additional rows of those high selling items and just remove slower selling items. As a company, I can quickly get a better feel for how many boxes of doritos or cases of pepsi I need to service everything regularly, etc.. Yes, I already had somewhat of an idea of what I sold a lot of and what didn't sell too well, but this software allows you to see it so much easier that you get a more accurate idea. I have just been buying the variety packs from Sam's Club for YEARS and I now intend on ordering actual cases of LSS chips because now I know that certain items in those variety packs are almost worthless to have in stock, such as puffed cheetos. Yes, a case of LSS doritos is more expensive than the variety pack at Sam's Club, but that doesn't really matter too much if I end up throwing out 4 bags of puffed cheetos. In addition to being able to increase sales (by putting in more of what sells and less of what doesn't), I will soon be able to drastically increase my service cycles at many locations. One of my best locations has an unpredictable work schedule for employees due to the nature of their work and I don't always know whether they need service or not. Now, I know precisely when I need to get there. Other locations are more predictable but I have learned that simply changing some products and selections around will allow me to go every 2 weeks instead of every week, or maybe ever 3 weeks instead of every 2 weeks. This obviously means that i save time (and fuel).
One thing that stood out to me with this software, though, was the response from Vendsoft. I get responses back pretty quickly when I have a problem. For example, my software was attempting to predict what I would need rather than just tell me exactly what I needed from telemetry. I contacted Luben and told him what was happening and we found out that USATech is not recording my dex/fill recordings AND that the system is working harder than it has to (for me). So, I gave him my feedback and he changed things pretty quickly to better suit me. I am a long ways away from taking full advantage of this software, but now I am exciting to adding more card readers to locations that don't do so hot in sales (anywhere from $40-$60/week in sales) so I can literally find out how to increase their sales better and hopefully gain an increase from telemetry. None of this post even counts for the fact that my 10 additional readers added me about $150/week in new sales, which should more than cover the expenses of the readers. Of course, I already have a few locations that clearly don't use the readers hardly at all and I will remove them, but the bulk of my investment has paid off.
In conclusion, Vendsoft should be able to save you some money by providing you a better ability to manage your inventory, but the real savings is when you combine it with telemetry because you might have never known that doritos sold out in 2 days and that you could increase the sales of that single location by maybe $10/more each week by just adding another row of doritos. If you think about it, simply reducing stale products to a minimum could easily pay for this service by itself, and adding readers to the right locations could also pay for itself. In addition to all of that, saving fuel, and mostly... TIME.. will be huge for anyone who currently lacks the time to figure these things out on-site. You do NOT need this software to take advantage of telemetry, but it makes things so much easier. I have never used another management software and my review comes solely from my own experiences so far, but I am not only a believer that ANY vending management software can be absolutely advantageous for a vending operator, but Vendsoft is a bargain compared to other software out there.