As the number of millennials continues to grow, so has the emphasis on innovative technology. Consumers want to be wowed with new and exciting equipment, and will be more inclined to do business with a company willing to provide that flare. The same is true for the vending industry. With a number of innovative solutions available for new and existing machines, operators have to decide what to invest in. One thing is for sure, after speaking with industry leaders, it became apparent that embracing new technology is a must to stay ahead in vending.
Telemetry evolves in new areas
Telemetry is a term around which all other current innovations seem to be focused. Touchscreens, payment systems and even locking mechanisms all use telemetry; meaning real-time data for operators at the push of a button, and wireless capabilities for consumers at the point of sale.
According to Poch Ceballos, online solutions product project manager at Crane Merchandising Systems, Telemetry suggests a wireless platform, like Android or Linux, that can instantly stream important data such as malfunctions and product shortages to the operator — alerting him or her of the problem.
Brent Garson, CEO of Vendors Exchange International Inc. (VEII) believes telemetry and wireless connectivity will be a main-stay in the industry for years to come.
“I think telemetry and interactive screens are going to become a de facto phenomenon,” Garson said. “We don’t sell a Connect [VE Connect] unless it’s connected to the network. So I don’t think connectivity will continue to be a novelty, I think it’s going to become a reality.”
When operators fit their vending machines with telemetry, they’re often preparing their machines for future innovations. Andrea Ihara, vice president of marketing and business development at VendScreen uses the VendScreen Revolution as an example of a device that adds telemetry and includes software that can be updated every few months as new innovation is brought to market. Updates are seamless for the operators.
“Wireless connectivity allows the operator to be in touch quickly and efficiently with what is going on at their machine level,” Ihara said.
Telemetry also opens the gate for mobile payment. Mobile wallets such as ISIS or Google Wallets utilize NFC contactless technology communicated through a telemeter in the vending machine to make payments. Telemetry devices use the cellular networks from providers such as AT&T, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile as their communication network.
“Many payments experts forecast that our mobile phone will become our primary payment device and a repository for basic identification details” Chuck Reed director, marketing and sales operations support at MEI Inc. said. “How big will mobile payment be? Eventually, it will be the primary way we pay for things.”
Veronica Rosas, vice president of communication and investor relations at USA Technologies, Inc. (USAT) sees telemetry as a way for operators to streamline their business, without making a huge financial commitment.
“Investing in a whole new machine isn’t at the top of operators’ lists when they have the opportunity to drive incremental returns without making such an investment,” Rosas said. “Having a reliable, flexible and value-add service partner will, in our opinion, drive faster returns.”
A report published by Transparency Market Research entitled “Mobile Wallet Market-Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth and Forecast, 2012-2018,” suggests that the mobile wallet market will reach $1.607 billion by 2018, with 30.7 percent compound annual growth rate. Meaning, if the market grew steadily each year it would equate to $267 billion in annual sales.
Cashless is the future
Cashless payment options are a large part of the vending industry and an important retrofit technology. Less people carry cash today and without a cashless alternative, vending operators are missing out on potential sales. Plus, as Crane’s Ceballos, points out, cashless solutions encourage spending.