In a sea of SHRM National Conference and Exposition vendors providing employee assessments, background checking, and outsourced benefits administration services, it can be a little hard for any individual vendor, (assuming they don't have a custom 18-wheeler to roll in to the Expo Hall), to stand out from the pack.
One vendor that did stand out, at least in my mind, not only with the neat and innovative service that they provide, and in the clever way they engaged with some of the members of the massive SHRM blogging brigade in the pre-conference hype, was Avanti Markets, a Washington-based company that provides organizations with a new and fresh take on the typical break-room vending machine array. Avanti installs and helps maintain 'markets', a convenience store-style set-up with a variety of packaged and fresh food items, and a pay-as-you-go style kiosk that allows employees to purchase and pay for items using debit, credit, a stored-value Avanti account, and soon, company payroll deduction.
Companies can stock the markets with the mix of food items that they and their employees prefer, one idea being that organizations concerned with employee health and wellness can focus more heavily on fresh and healthy foods, and can even set a food pricing strategy, (and use subsidies), to encourage more consumption of good food options. Make a fresh salad cost $2.00 and a Snickers bar set you back $3.25, and you just might see the guys on the night shift start eating a little better.
Avanti's inventory management capability also allows company administrators to see real-time stock levels, consumption trends, and allows companies to make rapid adjustments to ordering and pricing strategies.
The last point about Avanti I'd like to mention, and maybe the main reason I wanted to take a few minutes to recognize them here? They seemed like a group of really nice people, from CEO Jim Brinton down to all the folks I met at the booth and corresponded with prior to the event. They have a neat idea, a cool service offering, and were really genuine and excited to share their story without trying to force me or the other folks here to notice them.
If you are interested in a better and potentially more healthy set of options for your organization's break areas, I would encourage you to check out what is happening at Avanti.
Now I better run to grab a Snickers before the price goes up.