Amazon, Amazon...Everywhere There's Amazon. It has been featured in online articles, blogs, at trade shows and in our December/January issue of Automatic Merchandiser. The general media is reporting revenues, new partnerships and the public opening of Amazon Go (a public, kiosk free micro market). Amazon seems to be everywhere. While some view this as a headache, the optimist in me challenges you to see it as an opportunity for success. And I just read an article about the future of payments that might just make that pay off.
PYMNTS.com is a publication that covers electronic payment topics and trends, including reporting on unattended retail. It's an industry that overlaps in places with vending and in a recent synopsis of trends for 2018 it argued that commerce would be more important than connected devices when talking about consumers and cashless payments.
Think Amazon, not Apple
There is that name again, Amazon. In What's Next For Payments And Commerce In 2018, author Karen Webster talks about the importance not of the technology that makes cashless buying possible, but the retailer. We have been hearing for years about mobile wallets and how they will take over purchasing...any minute now. The reality is that while mobile payments grow, it hasn't been explosive. On the other hand, Amazon has been blasting upwards. One of the reasons is that anyone, from small mom and pop retailers to large brand names can sell on Amazon, at least according to Webster. Alexa is integrated into a number of different devices, not just one and consumers can shop on Amazon from any online device.
Bringing it back to the vending industry, we need to be more commerce-centric, meaning we have to focus on the sale, and making it easy for consumers to get what they want (like Amazon). We need to avoid requiring only the use of our app or our machines (like Amazon). We need to make it so easy and safe to buy from us, that there is no reason to do anything else (like Amazon). And we should consider Amazon Pay.
I haven't heard anyone mention Amazon Pay before in our industry. Why is that? True, if you look at the number of sites that accept Apply Pay or even Google Wallet, there is a definite lack of availability. Apple Pay has by far the most of those three. However, with Amazon having such a strong name, could we work with them on the payments side to be more convenient to our end user, and the people at locations who make decisions about service? Could this be part of the last mile discussion?