There have been many prognostications of what technologies are most likely to gain traction in the vending industry in the next few years. While the exact impact of specific technologies is debatable, the following “V-Engineering” technology roadmap is intended to provide insight into advancements most likely to transform the vending industry.
While auto-retailing, mobile payments, remote management, cloud computing and digital signage are likely to lead the way, social, local, and mobile (SO-LO-MO) marketing will trail closely behind.
When faced with a challenging market, vending operators seek solutions that are cost-effective, logical, and lead to profitability while advancing the image of the industry. Can technology be relied on to be the leading accelerant to make this happen?
Will more efficient automation applications be well received? Is innovative technology cost-effective? The answer to these and related questions may lie in an emerging collection of diverse developments classified herein as “V-Engineering.”
The thrust of V-Engineering is the advancement of technologies designed to enhance the vending consumer experience while streamlining the planning, operations, management, and controls necessary for a successful business. Many of the developments contained in this article are forthcoming in the near term, and all are expected to be significant game changers within the next 18 to 24 months.
Interest in creating enhanced user interactivity at the point of purchase coupled with the availability of emerging payment options, as well as interest in product nutritional/ingredient disclosure information, provide a powerful basis for redefining the vending experience. The term V-engineering represents a conglomeration of several advancements currently under active development by technology suppliers and industry practitioners.
The application of roadmap strategies such as auto-retailing, digital media, cloud computing, remote management, location-based services, mobile payments, QR codes, user analytics, and dynamic servicing are expected to create a tsunami-like impact on the vending industry.
Retailing leads vending
For some time now, industry practitioners have been cognizant of the fact that a significant aspect restricting profitability in the vending channel is its failure to parallel retail transactions. This difference represents a major obstacle to industry advancement given that the vending experience works contrary to other transactions.
In a retail transaction, the consumer selects products first and pays for the products second. In a vending interchange, this sequence is reversed as the consumer first establishes credit through coin, currency, or electronic authorization, then makes an item selection.
If the vending experience more closely paralleled retail experiences, would this provide a basis for improved sales and profitability?
As the placement of video screens appear on vending machines, there is an opportunity to present a shopping cart graphic and depict product icons being placed into the cart as the consumer makes product selections for eventual payment.
For example, the consumer might select products A1, B5, and C2 and watch as iconic representations of each product are placed into a shopping cart (similar to the depiction when a computer file is copied from one location to another in MS Windows). Should the consumer change his/her mind and cancel the transaction or remove any item, these functions would process the change identically to actions used in an online shopping basket.
Once the consumer has finalized the desired set of items in the cart, payment options are presented (cash, card brand, or other media) and the chosen items are purchased and dispensed. What effects will this reversal of the vending sales process have on industry progress? Here are a few considerations: