“When consumers pay with cash they are limited to the amount of cash they have in their pockets,” Ceballos said. “A consumer is less likely to add more money for an item that costs $1.35, than they would be if they were using cashless payment methods.”
As Ceballos suggests, having a cashless solution allows operators to more easily increase prices without seeing a decrease in sales. Cashless also markets to a younger generation who is less likely to carry cash.
Culinary Ventures Vending in Union, N.J. has just begun implementing cashless solutions on their machines. Tom DiNardo, co-owner of Culinary Ventures Vending, got involved because of the impact it has on college campuses.
“Many colleges are implementing payment methods on students’ identification cards,” DiNardo said. “So it’s important that we have cashless solutions on the machines at these locations.”
DiNardo sees the long-term impact of cashless integration. He believes that operators who neglect cashless payment options will suffer going forward.
“The reality is people just don’t have cash anymore and the vending industry will just have to adapt,” DiNardo said. “You can either get on board or you drown in the wave. That’s what makes us front-runners in the industry is we’ve committed to adapting.”
MEI’s Reed reports that the most popular locations for cashless solutions are college campuses, large call centers, public sites and hospitals because of the likelihood of inadequate cash due to the unplanned nature of purchases. Having multiple payment options like cashless bezels that also accept cash increase the likelihood that the consumer will be able to make a purchase with whatever payment method they choose.
Rosas of USAT anticipates a demand in contactless payment in the future. “Loyalty, couponing and prepaid programs are likely to be the next big thing and are a focus of USAT and partners such as Verizon and Isis,” she said.
According to Ihara from VendScreen, the industry statistics have shown a 20 to 25 percent lift in sales due to cashless payment solutions.
Nutritional data is important
One of the complaints about traditional vending machines is the disconnect between product and consumer. People like to see what they’re buying. With telemetry and touchscreen technology, it is easier than ever for consumers to connect with products.
When vending operators adopt a touchscreen for their machines there are a lot of benefits. It is a bright and interactive display designed to grab the attention of consumers. Additionally, once consumers have engaged the screen, they have access to a product database filled with descriptive nutritional facts and high-definition photos. Ihara believes this will help lure customers who have otherwise given up on the industry.
“Consumers walked away from vending because it didn’t fit their nutritional needs,” Ihara said. “Be it because of allergies, intolerances or caloric restrictions or fat restrictions, nutritional display gives the consumer the ability to make educated decisions before vending. This brings people back to the vending marketplace.”
Databases that feed touchscreen with nutritional information can be simple or advanced. The VEII’s MIND™ (Make Informed Nutritional Decisions) breaks products into categories to further enhance the user experience.
“A consumer can walk up to a MIND and sort products by categories such as gluten free, peanut free or low fat,” Garson said. “The MIND™ will recognize those categories, and the products are tagged by us so the operators aren’t driving themselves crazy trying to figure out the technology.”
Third party advertising
Touchscreen technology also lends itself to alternate sources of revenue for operators. Touchscreens allow vendors to display advertisement videos and photos on their vending machines. These videos can promote products inside the machine, or third-party content.
Garson has seen vendors successfully use promotional videos, games or even targeted advertising based on a concept called anonymous analytics, where the machine uses a camera to identify the user’s age and gender, and then uses algorithms to try to determine what that person might be interested in purchasing.