Technology provides new ways for vending machines to give shoppers a more rewarding experience. While many of the newer technologies remain elusive to the average consumer, more vending machines are offering touchscreens, video screens, coupon dispensers, cashless readers, and even biometric scanners.
These technologies allow vending machines to provide more information to answer shoppers’ questions and, at the same time, speed up transactions and provide a more sensory intensive buying experience.
Some observers believe the calorie disclosure requirements in the new federal health care reform bill will help build interest in point-of-sale technology since some of the technologies will allow vending operators to meet the disclosure requirements.
The point-of-sale technologies that have been introduced in recent years bring benefits to operators, location managers, consumers and even product manufacturers.
“We’re encouraged to see such proactive measures being taken to bring vending into today’s technology centered environment,” said Joshua McCutcheon, associate manager at PepsiCo Americas Beverages, in response to Sprout, one of the technologies that will be covered in this article.
Several video screens have been demonstrated at industry trade shows in recent years. Some of the video screens work in combination with other technologies, such as coupon dispensers and remote machine monitoring.
Video screens allow a vending machine to provide information about products, visual images of products, promotional offers, as well as news and weather reports.
These point-of-sale merchandising technologies are emerging in tandem with remote machine monitoring (RMM) and cashless transaction capabilities. In most cases, the machine, in order to host a video screen and/or a coupon dispenser, also has RMM and cashless capability.
This article will review the progress of some of the key point-of-sale merchandising technologies that have been introduced in recent years.
QUICKSTORE24 OFFERS A HOST OF FEATURES
Quickstore24™, introduced in 2004, consists of a glassfront beverage machine and glassfront snack machine connected by a bright green enclosure that features point-of-sale graphics. The divider between the two machines contains the payment modules. Machines offer digital thumbprint payment, interactive video touchscreens that include advertising, and promotional coupons printed at the point of sale — all in addition to cashless readers and RMM.
Quickstore24™ uses an unconventional vending business model. Instead of selling machines and software to operators, the company provides a complete package to operators in exchange for a fixed percentage of sales. The company is also active in soliciting accounts.
Several operators who placed Quickstore24™ in the New England market have discontinued the system. One operator noted that he was unable to make a profit with the system’s vend pricing.
Sanese Services Inc. in Columbus, Ohio has 15 Quickstore24™s, noted Jeff Sanese, the company’s director of OCS. He said some of the promotional offers do bring extra value to the consumer. He said the system has also helped the company win some accounts.
Sanese said Quickstore24™ has not been greatly profitable. “It’s still in its infancy stage,” he said.
SPIO MEDIA NETWORK: COUPON DISPENSER, VIDEO SCREEN
The SPIO system, introduced in early 2008, consists of a coupon dispenser that is installed in the vending machine and offers a coupon that the consumer can redeem at a retail store. The system has recently added a Sony video touchscreen to complement or replace the printed offer.
SPIO provides the hardware at no cost to the operator. It also provides coupons, plastic or paper, in clips that are placed in the machine to be dispensed. There are an estimated 1,000 SPIO devices in the field currently.
SPIO has run coupon promotions for close to 30 consumer product manufacturers, according to Dobbin Prezzano, president and founder.