The Difference Between A Micro-Market & Vending Machine

In 2020, the UK’s Vending & Automated Retail Association reported that the humble Micro-Market has increased in growth by 367%! But what makes them so popular? And how different are they to traditional vending machines?
Micro-Market With Fridges & Chairs

Across the country, Micro-Markets are increasing in popularity. A revolution in workplace vending, the unmanned convenience stores are challenging the efficiency of the traditional vending machine. 

They’re attractive, modern and favoured for versatility. However, as a concept, they’re still relatively new. More than that, they’re thinly distributed in comparison to the 1.2 million vending machines dotted around the UK! 

An up-and coming concept, Micro-Markets are consistently linked to employee satisfaction. But will they ever replace the humble snack machine we’ve come to know so well? In this blog, we’re taking a deep dive into the world of vending, to explore both options in more detail.


Micro-Market With Till & Coffee Machine

What Is A Micro-Market?

A Micro-Market is a compact, self-serve store that provides fresh food and drink options throughout the day and night. Automated, without the need for staff, they’re an increasingly popular choice in large office environments. 

Closely tied to the vending industry, Micro-Markets are commonly referred to as ‘mini-canteens’. Entirely bespoke, they’re proven to promote staff wellbeing and productivity through the promotion of nutritious food and drink options. They even present an avenue for extra income, by giving staff the option to purchase refreshments in the office space! 

With 74% of current employees concerned about their wellbeing in the workplace, Micro-Markets are the ultimate perk.


Person Selecting A Vending Machine Choice

What Is A Vending Machine?

An alternative to a Micro-Market, a vending machine is essentially an automated shop. A popular solution for dispensing snacks and drinks to staff where a canteen isn’t available, they typically feature a selection of hot and cold drinks, and convenience food such as sandwiches and soup. However, unlike Micro-Markets, they have been criticised for carrying options with high quantities of calories, fats, salt and sugar.

Ideal for offices with limited space and smaller workforces, they are also equipped with self-serve cashless payment facilities for added convenience. Moreover, they do present extra income avenues, without staff expenditure.


Colleagues Eating Lunch Together

Micro-Market Vs Vending Machine

Micro-Markets can be categorised as the ‘next step’ of the humble vending machine. However, there are still some key differences between the two. 

Most noticeably, vending machines are typically built with the capacity to store 40 different products. A Micro-Market kiosk, however, can store up to 300 different products, including salads, warm meals and sandwiches. Moreover, vending machines are often designed to store pre-packaged and processed foods, whilst Micro-Markets can be restocked daily with fresh, healthier alternatives. 

Nonetheless, the installation of a Micro-Market is a commitment that requires space and budget. Vending machines, on the other hand, are simpler to fit and maintain, and can even be strategically placed around the office to create the illusion of a ‘mini’ Micro-Market.

The choice of solution is yours to make, but there are some key points you should consider first. 

Choice & Nutrition

Micro-Markets allow for a varied and nutritious selection, whereas traditional vending machines are more likely to feature convenience snack foods. 

Food has a direct effect on cognitive performance. And during the working day, consuming the wrong type can seriously impair productivity. A 2021 study of workers in the US, for example, found that employees with unhealthy diets are up to 66% less productive than their colleagues who regularly consume wholegrains and vegetables. Moreover, it’s known that highly processed diets can cause fatigue. 

Outward Impression & Value

Micro-Markets can leave a great outward impression on clients and potential new starters, which can lead to increased business growth. As a workplace benefit, they appeal to culture, engagement and job satisfaction. And unlike vending machines, they provide an attractive space to relax at lunch or hold client meetings. 

Amidst the ‘Great Resignation’, employee retention is key. And in a period of increased utilities and interest, onboarding clients is significant to growth. 

Affordability & Space

Compared to a traditional vending machine, Micro-Markets attract 18% more visits per day. They tend to be more attractive and customisable, providing more benefits in the long run. However, they call for a budget and space that your business may not have. 

In general, Micro-Markets are 20% more expensive to maintain. They cost even more to install, and require a large, suitable layout to reside in. Though they can stock up to 10 times more product than a vending machine, and allow for pricing flexibility depending on location, Micro-Markets aren’t suitable for every working environment. 


Lunch At Desk - Sub Roll & Coffee

Which Solution Is Right For My Business? 

In a nutshell, your choice will come as a result of four key deciding factors. These are; 

  • The available space in your workplace.
  • The number of employees in your business.
  • The available budget in the bank. 
  • The sector your business resides in. 


If you have an empty space, with 100 or more employees in the building and budget to spare, a Micro-Market is a long-term investment that’s worth making. However, if your office is small, your budget is low and you reside in a sector like healthcare – where staff can only stop for a short lunch – a traditional vending machine will be a space-saving, affordable and speedier option. 

To discuss your options with vending specialists at Oasis, get in touch. We’ll put your mind at ease, and help you realise which solution is right for your business. 

January 25, 2023

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