In December 2012, USA Technologies and Isis Mobile Wallet announced that vending machines in Texas and Utah would act as primary locations for its pilot program partnership. Based upon early results from the pilot in April 2013, a new concept was introduced into vending: mobile payments attached to a nationwide loyalty program, powered by Isis SmartTap technology and USA Technologies’ ePort and ePort Connect service.
From this partnership comes a unique promotion called Fifth Purchase Free.
The promotion is available to operators and consumers nationwide on over 62,000 vending machines across the U.S. In an exclusive interview with Maeve Duska, vice president of marketing for USA Technologies and Jim Stapleton, chief sales officer at Isis Mobile Wallet, Automatic Merchandiser and VendingMarketWatch.com got a firsthand look at how convenient and influential this partnership is and how it will positively affect the vending industry.
Once the announcement was made that the Isis Mobile Wallet had nationally launched, USAT began preparing operators for the Isis loyalty and the Fifth Purchase Free promotion, first by upgrading over 62,000 vending machines across the U.S. with Isis SmartTap technology. Customers with NFC-enabled ePorts on their vending machines were updated with SmartTap technology to begin accepting payments from consumers’ phones via their Isis Mobile Wallet app.
Isis, the joint venture between AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile USA, Inc. and Verizon Wireless, and USAT’s partnership impacts vending in a way that brings the industry out of the shadows: it focuses on customer engagement via contactless payments and promotions.
The process could not be made simpler for the vending operator or the consumer.
For operators, USA Technologies will install its ePort reader into the machine, and from there, everything is easy for the operator; simply let customers know they can start using Isis Mobile Wallet on their smartphones to purchase products by promoting the new concept on the vending machine. USA Technologies has been spreading the word to operators through several functions including emails, letters and packages that include point-of-sale decals for those operators to put on their machines. The decals are intended to advertise the Fifth Purchase Free promotion while simultaneously letting consumers know they can use the Isis Mobile Wallet on their phone to pay for products, without having to use cash or swipe a card.
For the consumer, it is just as easy. First, the consumer downloads the Isis Mobile Wallet app to their Android smartphone. Second, the consumer adds any participating credit cards [for a complete list of accepted banks, click here]. Then, they just need to walk up to a USAT NFC-enabled machine, choose which card they would like to pay with, and tap their phone to the payment terminal. “The Isis Mobile Wallet makes it as easy as possible for the consumer to simply tap and go,” said Duska.
It’s as simple as that.
“We are pioneering a new form of loyalty, making it effortless for consumers,” said Stapleton of the program.
In its newest loyalty promotion, USA Technologies and Isis have created the Fifth Purchase Free program that allows consumers who purchase four items with their Isis mobile app from any of the participating USA Technologies machines, to receive their next purchase for free. “We are trying to drive sales for our customers. The Fifth Purchase Free promotion makes it very easy for operators to participate,” said Duska.
This type of loyalty promotion program, never seen before in the industry, is a way for vending operators to move into a new era of customer engagement, without having to spend a penny. “We all know the proliferation of smartphones in today’s world. The technology is out there,” said Stapleton. A study done by Transparency Market Research reported that by 2018, the mobile wallet market will increase over 30 percent. Because vending is an everyday spend for consumers, it is a key segment for Isis.
For years, the vending industry has received criticism for not progressing fast enough with consumer preferences, including its acceptance of technology. Now, vending operators can offer the same technology-oriented convenience used at other retail locations.
In addition, the Fifth Purchase Free program allows operators to begin creating loyal customers. “In general, it takes three transactions for consumers to start regularly using their mobile wallets,” said Stapleton. USAT and Isis saw that the promotion increased both customer loyalty and sales for operators. “In the pilot locations, we saw a 20 percent increase at those machines,” said Duska.
“The idea is not to give away things for free. By making it a fifth purchase free promotion we are trying to create a consumer who continues using their smartphone for purchases by establishing a new purchase pattern. Once you can get the consumer to use their mobile wallet at the vending machine, you create new consumer behavior that drives sales,” said Duska.
Consumers can receive any item up to $5 for their fifth purchase free, and vending operators are reimbursed 100 percent by USA Technologies through standard electronic fund transfers. No consumer data is stored and the promotion is offered throughout 2014.
According to Stapleton, more than 20,000 carrier retail stores will be promoting Isis nationwide in 2014. The partnership between USA Technologies and Isis, along with the loyalty program created, brings vending into a new realm of customer engagement that will allow the consumer and the operator to benefit.