What are PICO Markets?

PICO markets, short for "Person In Charge Of" markets, represent a novel approach to retailing that aims to provide convenient and accessible shopping experiences for consumers, particularly in environments where traditional brick-and-mortar stores might be impractical or unavailable. These markets leverage technology, automation, and self-service concepts to offer a wide range of products in various settings, catering to the needs and preferences of customers in a dynamic and efficient manner.

Vending machines are automated retail machines that dispense products in exchange for money, typically electronically secure payment methods. These machines are usually single-purpose and offer a limited selection of products, often snacks, beverages, and simple convenience items. Vending machines are commonly found in high-traffic areas such as office buildings, schools, hospitals, and transit centers. They are characterized by their simplicity, low maintenance requirements, and ease of use.

Micro markets are a step up from traditional vending machines, offering a more diverse range of products and a slightly enhanced shopping experience. Micro markets are essentially small, self-contained retail spaces equipped with shelving, refrigerators, and automated checkout systems. They provide customers with a broader selection of fresh foods, snacks, beverages, and even some non-food items. Micro markets are commonly found in workplaces, corporate campuses, and public spaces, aiming to provide employees and visitors with a more comprehensive shopping experience compared to vending machines. Customers can browse items, pick up products, and then proceed to a self-checkout kiosk to complete their purchases.

PICO markets take the concept of automated retail a step further by incorporating more advanced technology, customization, and adaptability. The Person In Charge Of aspect implies that these markets are overseen by an individual who monitors and manages inventory, ensuring that the market remains well-stocked and responsive to customer needs. PICO markets are designed to fit into various environments, including small retail spaces, shared workspaces, apartment buildings, and more. These markets offer a wide variety of products, similar to micro markets, but with an emphasis on personalization and a curated selection. PICO markets often utilize digital interfaces, mobile apps, and AI-powered inventory management systems to optimize the shopping experience and adapt to changing consumer preferences.

What are the Benefits of PICO Markets?

PICO markets offer a range of benefits that cater to both consumers and operators, making them an attractive and innovative retail solution. PICO markets offer a range of advantages, including customization, convenience, operational efficiency, data-driven insights, and adaptability. These benefits make PICO markets a compelling solution for providing accessible and personalized retail experiences in a variety of environments.

Some of the key benefits of PICO markets include:

Customization and Variety

PICO markets allow operators to curate a diverse selection of products that cater to the specific preferences and needs of the target audience. This customization enhances the shopping experience by offering a wide range of options, including snacks, beverages, fresh foods, and other convenience items.


PICO markets are designed to be conveniently located in spaces where traditional retail might be challenging to establish. They provide customers with easy access to essential products without the need to travel to a traditional store, making them particularly valuable in residential complexes, shared workspaces, and other high-traffic areas. PICO markets can easily adapt to changing consumer trends and demands. Operators can quickly adjust their product offerings based on customer feedback, seasonal variations, and emerging market trends.

24/7 Accessibility

PICO markets often operate around the clock, offering consumers the convenience of shopping at any time of the day or night. This is especially advantageous for individuals with busy schedules or those who work non-traditional hours. PICO markets leverage self-service technology and automation, streamlining the shopping process. Customers can browse, select, and purchase items quickly, eliminating the need for waiting in lines or interacting with staff.

Enhanced Data & Analytics

PICO markets often incorporate digital interfaces and mobile apps that allow operators to gather valuable data on customer preferences, purchasing behavior, and inventory trends. This data can be used to optimize product offerings, pricing strategies, and inventory management. This enables user-friendly interfaces, mobile apps, and touchscreens to enhance the overall shopping experience. These technological features engage customers and make the shopping process more enjoyable.

Freshness and Quality

PICO markets can be stocked with fresh foods and perishable items, ensuring that customers have access to quality products. This is especially important in environments like workplace settings where employees seek convenient and healthy meal options. With real-time inventory management systems, operators can monitor product expiration dates and adjust stock levels accordingly, minimizing food waste and ensuring that products remain fresh and consumable.

Community Building & Overhead Costs

PICO markets can foster a sense of community within shared spaces by providing a gathering point for residents, employees, or visitors. This communal aspect can contribute to a positive atmosphere and social interactions. Compared to traditional brick-and-mortar stores, PICO markets generally have lower operational costs. They require less space, fewer staff members, and reduced overhead expenses, contributing to higher profit margins for operators.

Are PICO Markets for Everyone?

Certainly, PICO markets can bring significant value to a variety of locations, enhancing convenience and accessibility for consumers while offering operational advantages for businesses. Many industries have begun exploring the potential value of PICO markets in various settings.

In healthcare settings, convenience is a big one for both staff and visitors. PICO markets in hospitals can provide staff and visitors with access to healthy snacks, beverages, and quick meals, especially during long shifts or while waiting for appointments. With around-the-clock operational hours, PICO markets a convenient solution for obtaining necessities during non-traditional hours. They can go as far as offering specialized items tailored to patients' dietary needs, making it easier for hospital staff to provide appropriate options and improve the overall patient experience.

In office or corporate settings, PICO markets can offer employees a wide range of meal and snack options without needing to leave the premises, boosting productivity and morale. This enhances the workplace experience overall. Employees can grab a snack or a meal during short breaks, eliminating the need for long commutes or waiting in lines at external food vendors. They can even be tailored to the preferences of the office workforce, catering to specific dietary needs and tastes.

PICO markets in hotels provide guests with a convenient way to purchase snacks, drinks, and travel essentials at any time, improving the overall guest experience. This helps hotels generate extra revenue by offering a curated selection of products that cater to their guests' preferences. PICO markets can feature locally sourced products, introducing guests to regional flavors and items.

Taking to the friendly skies? PICO markets in airports or other transit centers offer travelers access to meals, snacks, and essentials without the need to navigate the airport's complex layout. This can help offset or mitigate delays. Passengers facing flight delays or layovers can find sustenance and comfort without having to leave the airport premises. They also have the customizable benefit of offering travel-sized toiletries and travel essentials for passengers in need.

What about food and beverage operations? It makes sense here, too. PICO markets in restaurants can provide patrons with take-home options outside regular restaurant operating hours, increasing revenue potential. Customers can pick up or purchase items while waiting for their takeout orders or deliveries. Restaurants can showcase local food products and ingredients for patrons to enjoy at home.

PICO markets on university campuses provide students with meal and snack options between classes and during off-hours. PICO markets can offer a variety of healthy food choices, catering to students' nutritional needs. Students with various dietary preferences can find suitable options within the PICO market.

In all these settings, PICO markets offer a combination of convenience, customization, and extended availability that aligns well with the needs and expectations of consumers. These markets provide businesses with an opportunity to enhance customer satisfaction, generate additional revenue, and optimize resource utilization, making them a valuable addition to a wide range of environments.

How do I know if I’m a good fit for a PICO Market?

While vending machines are simple, single-purpose automated retail machines, micro markets offer a broader range of products and a slightly enhanced shopping environment. PICO markets take the concept further by emphasizing customization, personalization, and adaptable inventory management, making them suitable for a diverse array of settings and consumer preferences. The progression from vending machines to micro markets to PICO markets reflects the evolution of technology and consumer expectations in the automated retail space. Determining if your business is a good fit for a PICO market involves assessing various factors related to your industry, target audience, location, and operational capabilities.

Choose a Reliable Supplier in Bernicks

Where to go from here? Seek advice from industry experts, consultants, or vending professionals who have experience with automated retail solutions. They can provide valuable insights and guidance. Ultimately, the decision to implement a PICO market should align with your business goals, target audience, and resources. Conduct thorough research, analyze your unique circumstances, and carefully consider the potential benefits and challenges before making a final decision.

And make sure you’re selective when it comes to who you decide to partner with on this PICO market venture!

Talk to a PICO Market Specialist


Published on: Dec 12, 2023

Topics: PICO Markets

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