Point of sale communication is an area where technology offers major benefits, but traditional tools can work well in the meantime: customer newsletters, point-of-sale stickers, posters in the break room, not to mention the physical interaction of the customer service representative.
Several technical innovations in recent years are designed to improve customer value. While most operators can’t afford these at the present time, understanding what these technologies offer will instill a better sense of the service vending already offers.
As some industry experts have phrased it, the challenge is in becoming retailers and not simply service operations.
The SPIO Media Network system is a coupon dispenser that is installed in the machine. When a vend is made, a promotion is dispensed simultaneously. It can be an offer to receive a free item from a restaurant or $5 off a $25 purchase at a retail store. The company is working with consumer product manufacturers on vending promotions.
QuickStore24 is a pairing of a snack and beverage machine with interactive video touchscreens, multiple payment options, and on-site coupon dispensers.
More recently, a group of vending operators partnered with Cantaloupe Systems on a new company called Sprout that will deploy telemetry and cashless services, along with coupons and loyalty reward programs. The principals claim several major consumer product manufacturers have taken an interest in the program.
Such solutions have the capacity to change customer perception of vending, but before this can happen, these solutions will require critical mass.
This does not mean that these innovations have no purpose at the present time.
The vending operator’s first step is to recognize the value he brings to the location and the consumer. As simple as this sounds, current operator behavior does not indicate widespread recognition of this need. By focusing on purchase costs and accepting low prices and high customer commissions, it is difficult for operators to provide the value the customer seeks.