Best Automated Retail Solution For Schools


Retail automation refers to the use of technology and automated systems to streamline and optimize various aspects of the retail industry. It encompasses a wide range of processes, from inventory management and customer interactions to payment processing and data analytics. Retail automation can benefit businesses and organizations of all types and sizes, including traditional brick-and-mortar stores, e-commerce platforms, hospitality establishments, and more.

What about its use and relevance in school-based settings? Yes, automated retail solutions make sense here too. Here’s why. Automated systems track inventory levels, monitor stock movement, and trigger reordering when stock falls below a certain threshold. This minimizes stockouts and overstock situations, optimizing supply chain efficiency. In conjunction, automated POS systems handle transactions, manage customer or student user data, and provide real-time insights into sales trends. They often integrate with inventory management systems for accurate stock tracking. Self-service kiosks, as is the design behind a PICO (Person in Charge Of) market, allow customers or students to browse products, make selections, and complete purchases without interacting with a human cashier or attendant. This expedites the buying process and reduces waiting times—especially between classes and before that bell rings.

PICO Market Means Automated Retail for Schools

In a school environment, students and staff often have limited time between classes and activities. Having a PICO market on campus provides a convenient option for them to quickly grab snacks, beverages, or even essentials like stationery items without needing to leave the premises. Schools typically have set meal times, and students might feel hungry between these times, or spend their lunch breaks working on assignments or meeting with teachers or coaches. A PICO market offers 24/7 access to food and snacks, ensuring that students can satisfy their hunger even outside regular dining hours.

Healthier Snacking Options

PICO markets can be stocked with a variety of snack options, including healthier choices like fresh fruits, yogurt, granola bars, and trail mix. This encourages students to make better food choices while on campus. PICO markets can be tailored to the preferences of the school's demographic. This means offering products that are popular among students and align with their tastes.


PICO markets in schools can be incorporated into various educational programs. Students can learn about business operations, inventory management, and customer service by actively participating in the management of the market. PICO markets can serve as a platform for teaching students about budgeting, managing money, and making purchasing decisions. Thinking of organizations within your school that could potentially monetize a PICO market for scholastic gain? Great idea. It’s common that PICO markets are operated by the school or in partnership with vendors. Profits generated from the market can be directed toward school programs, clubs, or other initiatives.


A PICO market can become a hub for social interaction and a meeting point for students and staff. This fosters a sense of community and engagement within the school. Students leaving the school premises to buy snacks can disrupt the learning environment and result in tardiness. PICO markets mitigate this by providing an on-site option for quick purchases.


PICO markets can be set up in various spaces within the school, including common areas, dormitories, or near classrooms, depending on the school's layout and needs. PICO markets provide a controlled environment for purchasing items. This reduces the need for students to carry cash, enhancing safety on campus. Speaking of tech-related benefits, having a PICO market on campus showcases the school's commitment to modern technology and innovation, which resonates well with tech-savvy students and education leaders.

A PICO market makes sense in a school setting due to its convenience, accessibility, potential for healthier choices, educational opportunities, community engagement, and alignment with modern technology trends. By enhancing the student experience and promoting healthier habits, a PICO market can contribute positively to the school environment.

What are the Benefits of Retail Automation?

The benefits of retail automation in schools lead to improved efficiency. Vending automation streamlines various processes, reducing manual intervention, human errors, and time-consuming tasks. This leads to greater operational efficiency, which many districts prioritize year after year as changes affect many aspects of staffing. A PICO market offers personalized experiences, quick checkout options, and real-time interactions, improving overall student satisfaction and timeliness. Maintain cost considerations with a PICO market’s automation as it’s designed to not only minimize inventory inaccuracies but also reduce stockouts and overstock situations. This leads to better inventory turnover and cost savings—always important within school budgets. Another daunting task related to school districts is staffing shortages and spread-thin resources that don’t always reach every corner of a school’s operation. Automating routine tasks reduces the need for extensive manual labor, allowing schools to allocate resources more effectively.

  • Faster Transactions: Self-checkout kiosks and online platforms enable quicker transactions, reducing waiting times and improving customer flow.
  • Data-Driven Insights: Automated systems collect and analyze data, providing districts with valuable insights into user preferences, trends, and areas for improvement.
  • Scalability: Automation can be scaled easily as school demographics expand or shift, accommodating increased student and faculty demand by expanding product offerings.
  • Consistency: Automated processes ensure consistency in service quality, pricing, and customer interactions, regardless of employee changes.
  • Competitive Advantage: Schools that adopt retail automation stand out as tech-savvy, innovative, and student-centric, giving them a competitive edge.

Which Retail Automation Methods Do Schools Need?

While considering the rate at which technology changes in educational landscapes, the idea of retail automation in schools can be too expansive to fully consider. For the sake of student nutrition, consider two ways you might use retail automation. One might be considered traditional and stand-by, and the other more cutting edge, innovative, and just plain smarter. Here are two key differences between a PICO market and a vending machine.

Old Vending Machines

Vending machines traditionally focus on snacks, beverages, and packaged items. While there are variations that offer healthier options, the selection is generally more limited compared to PICO markets. Customization options in vending machines are typically limited to selecting from a predetermined set of products offered by the vending machine manufacturer. Vending machines offer a more straightforward transactional experience. Customers make selections by pressing buttons corresponding to the products they want, and the chosen item is dispensed. Interaction with vending machines is primarily limited to making selections and receiving items. There is minimal opportunity for browsing or exploring additional information about the products.

PICO Markets

PICO markets and vending machines are both automated retail solutions, but they have key differences that set them apart. PICO markets offer a broader range of products compared to vending machines. They can stock not only snacks and beverages but also fresh foods, essentials, and even specialty items. PICO markets allow for more customization in product selection. Operators can curate a diverse range of items that cater to the preferences and needs of the target audience, whether it's in a teacher’s lounge, school commons area, or athletic complex.

PICO markets provide a more interactive and engaging retail experience. They often feature touchscreens or digital interfaces that display product information, prices, and images, allowing students to browse before making a selection, and they can physically pick up items, examine them, and make choices based on visual information provided by the digital interface. This mimics a small-scale shopping experience similar to a convenience store and grants students autonomy and control of choice.

To recap, the key differences between a PICO market and a vending machine lie in the range of products offered and the retail experience they provide to schools. PICO markets offer greater product variety and customization, along with a more interactive and personalized shopping experience. Vending machines, on the other hand, have a narrower product scope and provide a simpler transactional process.

Talk to Bernicks for the Automated Retail Solution

Retail automation offers numerous benefits across various aspects of business operations in regard to educational settings. By leveraging technology to streamline processes, enhance student and faculty experiences, and make data-driven decisions, school districts and education organizations of all types can achieve greater efficiency, improved profitability, and enhanced student success. All of this insight and delivery requires partnership with a PICO market vendor who understands the business and specific requirements and implications for schools. Bernick’s maintains a robust vending-based service offering that is second to none. We prioritize education as a general area of service and dedication, so it’s only appropriate that our vision for food and beverage options for students is the very best. And, we’d love to help your district make the right automated retail choice each and every time.

Talk to a PICO Market Specialist


Published on: Dec 21, 2023

Topics: PICO Markets

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