02 May 24

How Partnerships Deliver Complete Smart Vending Solutions

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The global vending machine market, valued at $51.91 billion in 2021 is growing at a healthy 10.7% CAGR on its way to reaching $129.40 billion by 2030. It’s good news for independent software vendors (ISVs) and value-added resellers (VARs) working in this space or looking for new opportunities. However, as in all retail segments, consumers expect smooth processes and payment choice when making purchases. Furthermore, operators are looking for solutions that increase their efficiency and profits. Smart vending solutions take experiences to a new level.

What is Smart Vending?

A smart vending solution includes a single-board computer with a broadband connection that manages the vending machine’s user interface and the connection to the payment gateway or payment processor. A traditional vending machine isn’t equipped with computing power – if it accepts payment cards, uses a low-level vending protocol (MDB) to control the hardware peripherals, and uses a wireless modem to transmit payment data for approval.

(My comments on above:  Smart Vending typically uses a broadband connection from the PC to the payment processor either a direct Ethernet, Wifi, or 4G modem.   The traditional vending machine can also use a 4G modem for payments.  Big difference between intelligent vending and traditional vending is the payment architecture (payment app flow), and the value-added business services.  

With onboard computing power, a smart vending solution can also automate many of the processes that vending companies must perform. For example, it can update the machine’s inventory data in real time, enable remote machine health checks and software updates, and collect data on customer preferences, which can help maximize revenues by ensuring that in-demand products are available at the right time.  This even includes performing dynamic pricing.

Because of their “smart” features, these vending solutions provide experiences that keep customers coming back to make future purchases and increase the operational efficiency of vending businesses.

How to Build a Smart Vending Solution

Solutions providers taking smart vending solutions to market know partnerships are vital. ISVs and VARs need hardware partners to provide the touchscreens, enclosures, product shelves, sensors, power, and heating or cooling systems. Depending on the use case, the vending machine may also need a printer to print receipts or tickets.

A partnership with a payment technology company is also critical. The unattended payment terminal integrated with the solution must be user-friendly, but it must also be built for purpose, able to withstand exposure to rain and dust outdoors and be vandalism-resistant. The payment technology VARs or ISVs choose for their smart vending solutions should accept a wide range of payments, from cash, credit, and debit cards to contactless and mobile wallet payments. Solutions providers can also add value by working with a payment technology company that enables alternative payments at the vending machine. For example, the system can accept QR code payments via embedded or optional cameras.

Because total smart vending solutions require multiple components to operate and deliver optimal performance, solutions providers must also make sure they’re partnering with companies that share their commitment to developing the solution. Collaboration during the process of certifying software for partner devices is a plus, helping to streamline processes and take the solution to market more quickly.

Smart Vending Trends

Hardware, software, and VAR partners working together to launch a smart vending solution need to keep trends in mind, from concept and design to execution. First, branding matters. Retailers can deploy vending machines at their own locations. However, they’re far more likely to place them on other properties, such as in a mall, at an airport, outside a supermarket, or in a hotel, hospital, or corporate break room. Solutions providers must design vending machines that strongly communicate and highlight the retailer’s brand.

Furthermore, branding a smart vending machine may mean more than using the right colors and logo on the interface. Retailers also want to provide their customers with consistent experiences in true omnichannel fashion. Solutions providers who can enable loyalty reward redemption and gift card acceptance can capture business from retailers who see the value in personalizing experiences at the vending machine.

Another trend to consider is the shift toward self-service for all types of retailers. Vending is no longer only for snacks and beverages (low value ticket items), but also high value ticket items. Products sold via vending machines include healthy food choices, health and beauty products, electronics, clothing, jewlery, and accessories. Additionally, 78% of consumers agree that sustainability is important, so including a way for customers to recycle plastic bottles or aluminum cans and building energy-efficient vending machines can also tip the scales in your direction when retailers choose their solution provider.

But remember, you won’t achieve success in the smart vending space alone. To learn more about Ingenico unattended payment terminals for smart vending solutions and working with us to take your solution to market, contact us.

Bruce Rasmussen.png

Bruce Rasmussen

Director of Sales, Strategic Verticals

Ingenico US

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