The wearing of masks and other PPE to mitigate the risks of spreading COVID-19 is an integral part of the emerging ‘new normal’.
Although legislation / advice in the UK has its anomalies and its confusion – there are different regulations in place across the UK, with each of the devolved nations taking a slightly different approach – masks have become a ubiquitous part of daily life. Since the wearing of face coverings became mandatory firstly on public transport and later in shops in parts of the UK, they are now a common sight on high streets across the country.
However, the requirement to make anti-virus PPE widely available to the general public has provided a much-needed sales fillip. Vending machines are the ideal vehicle for the distribution of these products. They eliminate the need for human contact, they are the ultimate vehicle for social distancing; they are open for business 24/7; they are easy to set up for contactless payment and – as we wrote in our article ‘the only dangerous vending machine is a dirty vending’ machine – they are safe to use.
A plethora of new businesses, led by Adam Freeman’s Maskey, have come to market as manufacturers of face masks. They have identified vending as their preferred method of distribution, providing a new and much needed sales outlet for machine manufacturers.
The use of vending machines to provide PPE is nothing new. Back in 2013, Planet Vending reported on a collaboration between North West Vending and Spontex, which provided a solution for a mutual customer, Glen Dimplex. The main driver then was simple enough: any workplace in which the issue of safety equipment is not recorded leaves itself vulnerable to Personal Injuryclaims. If there was an accident in the workplace and there was no irrefutable evidence that the correct protection had been issued, there’s a problem. The NWV – Spontex partnership provided Glen Dimplex with unimpeachable data – they could see clearly which employees took supplies, from where and when. It was the ultimate transparent audit trail.
Be that as it may: until now, PPE vending has been nothing more than a bonus, peripheral to the main business of vending. That may be about to change. The company whose machines were used at Glen Dimplex was Evoca UK, (then, of course, N&W Global Vending). Evoca has reported strong sales of their PPE vending solution.
‘We came to market in May this year’, Evoca Sales Director Craig Jukes told PV. ‘Our offer was well received right from the start. ‘Business has trebled in the last month alone. We’re finding that there’s a strong pull for PPE Vending machines from the retail sector in particular. Retailers and shopping centres are making masks, hand sanitiser and other PPE available for their customers to purchase as they continue to encourage consumers back to the high street.’
An entirely new market, consisting of an entirely new cohort of customers, may be the opportunity that the industry requires to continue moving forward, to maintain the investment in R&D that has done so much to enhance the standing of unattended retailing in general and vending machines in particular.
So now, we wait: will PPE vending deliver the lifeline that the industry has been hoping for in the face of the chaos of COVID? Fingers crossed…
More COVID related stories on PV, HERE
You just have to laugh… masks in the UK: the anomalies and the confusion
We’re indebted to Phil Middleton for the following piece, which was first posted on Facebook.
- So. If I’m working in my shop, I don’t have to wear a mask.
- If I go next door, to another shop, I have to wear a mask.
- When the staff from next door come into my shop, they have to wear a mask.
- While they are in their shop they don’t have to wear a mask, but I do.
- When they come to my shop, they have to wear a mask, but I don’t.
- (All the customers do though…)
- Me and all the customers from their shop and my shop go to a café two doors down and none of us have to wear a mask.
- In a shopping centre, I don’t have to wear a mask until I actually go inside a shop.
- The shop is full of the people who were in the shopping centre without masks, but they have to wear one when they enter the shop.
- The staff in that shop are not required to wear ..
- Meanwhile, today in Greater Manchester, it’s OK to go a pub with 50 strangers, but I’m not allowed to sit with my mum in her garden. Not even if we both wear masks.
- I can go on a plane next week, but I have to wear a mask the whole time; except – of course – when I’m eating or drinking. Then it’s OK to remove the mask.
- Go figure…