At its inception in 2014, Atlanta startup Gimme Vending had one purpose: to help vending machine owners stay on top of their inventory and prevent loss of income due to an item being out of stock. Their IoT software and hardware solution sent alerts about low inventory and expiration dates.
Now, this growing company offers three different inventory experiences that widen their reach across this $6-billion-dollar industry.
First, they expanded into grocery stores to alleviate payment delays. For example, if a bakery vendor stops by the grocery store to deliver a pallet of baked goods, they generally have to stock the shelf, print an invoice, and get a physical signature before they can leave — not collecting payment until a later date.
With Gimme’s software, the vendor can generate an invoice electronically, capture the signature on an iPad and get paid electronically. The feature has helped Gimme sign multiple independent distributors, major bottlers, and national brands as clients.
“We partnered with over a dozen of the original providers of that software to integrate Gimme into their product offering to make it way faster. Those partnerships in the grocery space help facilitate all these new customers,” CEO Cory Hewett tells Hypepotamus.
In December 2018, they released the Gimme Markets mobile app, which allows drivers to switch between vending machine and micro-market inventory all in one place. Unlike most inventory tracking tools, it’s largely image-driven.
“Our customers five years ago only had vending machines. Then out of nowhere, in an industry that’s slow to change, this concept of micro-market came out — that’s the self-checkout right next to coolers and shelves that delivers a really great new customer experience,” says Hewett.
“In a matter of three years, our customers went from zero micro-markets to between 50-70 percent of their business revenue coming from this new point of sale concept.”
Micro-markets, found mainly at airports, often carry sandwiches, beverages, brownies, and other snacks. Once the customers picks out what they want, they can quickly scan, pay and leave without having to wait on human assistance.
For inventory operators, this was a game-changer, says Hewett, as it expands options from 45 selections in a vending machine to 250+ selections in a micro-market.
“Instead of having a picture map of where everything needs to go in, now the driver can pick up an item, scan it, and they don’t have to interact with the software past that for it to track how many things have sold and need to be replenished,” says Hewett. The app puts the items in a list view and the driver can add and subtract product.
Gimme claims that they can decrease the time it takes to fully inventory a micro-market by over 50 percent, with even smaller “nano-markets” taking less than 15 minutes to inventory.
And finally, on January 15, Gimme is releasing their most ambitious product yet — a machine learning-powered feature called AutoDrive.
Using an iOS camera, drivers can quickly count inventory in the vending machine or micro-market without manually counting items. As the camera moves over the items, the software’s computer vision identifies and counts all products automatically. This feature displays all the products on one screen as well.
“Our operators see a huge benefit to their business using our software, but it was still largely manually-driven,” says Hewett. “We wanted to get rid of tedious work. This tracks it like a video and we can get different angles in depth and get inventory counts automatically.”
The team has accomplished a lot in a relatively short period of time. Hewett attributes open communication to keeping up the momentum within the startup. All 17 employees receive and discuss actionable tasks at daily all-hands meetings.
“One of the ways that we’ve made sure that we can keep up with this growth is… a really close look at our culture to keep everybody motivated and marching to the beat of the same drum,” he says. “If someone’s been stuck on something for a while, we can address that right away.”
On top of strategic funding raised in early 2018, he shares that the growth of their grocery store product has helped them remain capital-efficient to fund innovative R&D products like AutoDrive.