Within the farm food market, there has been a growing demand for farmers to sell their products directly to their customers. There are two main reasons for this. First, supermarkets have been trying to lower the prices that they pay to farmers. Second, the cost of production has increased due to environmental and welfare issues related to meat production.
JSR Services, Ltd. – an egg-laying business run by the Retson family – has first-hand experience with this problem, and has taken steps to play into the changing market. The family sought to invest in an automated machine to sell their eggs directly to their customers, in order to bypass the middleman and to increase their profit margins. To that end, they purchased a Zuply locker machine, and became the first UK business to make use of Innovend’s Lockblox solutions. Locker machines are a kind of vending machine, but tailored to a wide range of businesses. These devices allow companies to offer their products directly to individual customers, without retailers in between. By purchasing one of these machines, the Retson family established a relationship with Zuply, the producer of the locker machine. This relationship culminated in Stuart Retson founding the company Vending by JSR, which sells the locker machines to companies in the UK.
“To begin with, we supplied the machines to other farmers and food producers. Businesses just like ours,” Stuart explains. “We like dealing with smaller companies, and helping them to maximise their profit margins, just as we did for ourselves.” For the customers of these farm businesses, this provided the advantage of being able to purchase fresh produce at all hours of the day. For example, one of Stuart’s customers, Betty’s Farm, wanted to open their own farm shop. The company had a very specific vision, and the locker machines were a perfect fit for realising that vision, because they are highly customisable. Several discussion sessions led to a tailor-made realisation of Betty’s Farm’s vision. To this day, Stuart has regular meetings with them, to keep improving the customer experience at Betty’s Farm Shop. “Their feedback is priceless,” Stuart says, “because we can take that into account for every company we help.”
So how do these lockers work? Stuart explains: “The machines are located in the shop. All products are displayed on the touch-screen, so that the customer can easily choose what they want to buy by tapping the screen. Multiple products can be selected at once for convenience. Then, the customer can pay with cash or card, and the purchase is complete.” After payment, the doors to the selected products open and the customer can collect their purchase. It’s an easy system for the company too: they can keep track of the machine’s stock and sales figures via the Vending Web portal.
The convenience of this system has drawn the attention of many customers. By now, Vending by JSR has supplied and installed not only the most, but also the largest locker machines of all UK-based distributors. They can therefore rightly call themselves the UK’s largest distributor for Innovend’s world-leading vending solutions. They no longer supply only business in the farming sector: their customer base has expanded to include businesses from all sectors, from small family businesses to multinational corporations. The company serves as a one-stop shop for all locker machine needs: from delivery to installation to maintenance. It provides a single point of contact for every step of the process. “We offer support packages for the life of your machine that suit all needs and budgets, so you’ll have a person on the other end of the phone whenever you need them.”
As to how Vending by JSR will stay ahead of other companies, Stuart has very clear ideas. First of all, he wants to expand to other sectors. “We know Zuply is offering solutions in the IT and construction sectors, for example, so we will be exploring these too. I would like to build on the service contract side of the business, so expanding into other markets is essential.”
Together with Zuply we look for the best ways to serve the UK market in an even faster way. We are looking at a bright future ahead.