The airport is a unique customer since it is a captive site with exceptionally high vend prices and customers who are predisposed to using their credit cards.
New card reader: high resolution graphic display
MJW Vending was the first company to use Isochron’s newest credit card reader, noted Bryan Godwin, Isochron’s CEO. The new credit card reader features a high-resolution graphic display screen and processes both magnetic stripe and contactless credit purchases.
All MJW Vending machines now have interactive card readers in addition to bill acceptors and dollar coin payout.
Within each bank, one or two machines have an antenna that acts as a “gateway” for the other machines. The secondary or “client” machines send their data to the “gateway” machine, from which the collective data is transmitted via cellular signal to Isochron’s host computer in Austin, Texas. The cellular signal and connection integrated into Isochron readers is offered by way of an embedded wireless technology developed by Sierra Wireless.
MJW Vending did not have to install any software in its own computer; all information is accessed via an Internet Website.
Two “gateways” are sometimes needed because the vending bank header sometimes interferes with cellular signals.
The remote machine monitoring software tracks machine inventory, along with the condition of all of the peripherals, such as the bill validator, coin mech and credit card reader. It provides “retail efficiency” reports.
The graphic touchscreen makes the credit card reader easy to use. At the start of the process, the touchscreen asks if the customer wants to make multiple purchases. The customer then makes their selection on the touchscreen and the credit transactions are authorized individually in real time. The touchscreen then tells the customer how much was charged to their account.
Isochron handles all the credit card processing. The credit purchases include a 5 percent processing charge.
Flash animation offers new benefits
Flash animation graphics promoting certain products are displayed on the touchscreen during the cashless transaction process. The flash animation content was provided by Coca-Cola Co. and by Isochron. Coca-Cola provided the flash animation for the beverage machines while Isochron provided it for the snack and ice cream machines.
Godwin at Isochron noted that the system gives operators the ability to develop their own flash animation content.
Turner at Coca-Cola Co. said that during the last Christmas holidays, Isochron was able to remotely change the content on the screens. Isochron’s ability to change content does not require additional work on the part of the vending operator.
Graphic touchscreens: an advertising opportunity
The remote monitoring has created the opportunity for brand marketers to target locations with specific messages, noted Jeff Busch, a director of on-premise business development at Coca-Cola Co. He said the marketer can develop content for a specific location and send it to Isochron, which in turn uploads it to the machine.
Wilbourn said the response to the credit card readers has been encouraging. About 10 to 14 percent of the purchases are cashless, Wilbourn noted, of which the vast majority are from the card swipe as opposed to the “tap and go” reader.
Because airport news stands began selling beverages around the same time the card readers were installed, he has not yet been able to say how much difference the cashless capability has made in sales.
“A lot of people may have a $10 or $20 and they have to go straight to a credit card, and you can do more than one transaction,” said Alfred Burse, vending service manager for MJW Vending.
Video touchscreens offer promise
Wilbourn has been studying video screens on vending machines for the last few years. “It can tell the story of whatever product you’re trying to promote,” he said. “If you’re flashing that (image), you can get somebody’s attention.”
While the Isochron readers have 3.4-square-inch video screens, Wilbourn thinks there is also a place for a larger video screen on the machine.