Any business should keep up with the times, and the vending machine industry isn’t an exception. Every few years or so, you’d find new innovations and technologies that help make products and businesses more accessible and convenient.
This is especially true since smart technologies have been in the market for over a decade and are used in various ways. One such integral feature is the ability of smart devices to connect with other smart devices via Bluetooth or Wifi, allowing for easier payments, monitoring and increasing overall operating capacity. This rise in smart tech is changing consumer approaches and needs. With this, you can finally be at peace knowing that vending machines will break down less and won’t gobble up your money indiscriminately.
With these major changes, the vending industry is breaking away from the conventional offering of food and beverages and is steadily growing by expanding to other sectors. Vending machines offer a plethora of products you wouldn’t see a decade ago like gadgets, electronics, tickets, appliances, hot food, and more.
The vending machine industry continues to expand its horizon, and economic experts estimate a five billion dollar growth by 2023. The vending industry has long been ignored in terms of innovation in its different aspects, and it’s only recently enjoyed new improvements and technological advancements. However, with these new innovative trends, we’re seeing a fresh resurgence of vending machines that will only drive profits and popularity in the years to come.
Let’s look at the Newest Innovations in the vending machine industry.
Improved Payment Systems
Bringing cash and coins nowadays is considered an inconvenience and most payments are done via debit, credit, or mobile payments. Gone are the days of stuffy wallets and coins jangling in pants. Physical currency is more of an emergency fund when paying for products or services and paying online is gradually becoming the primary mode of payment.
In the US alone, 65% of transactions for products and services were done using contactless technology in the past two years. While this may have been due to safety protocols during the pandemic, there’s no doubt that contactless technologies will continue to have an upward trend.
As for vending machines, the time for cashless payments is already here and some vending companies have started to update their machines that feature debit and credit payment systems.
While the coin and bill validators are not yet phased out, this gives vending consumers new options otherwise not available to them a few years back. Another recent innovation for the vending industry is the option to pay using mobile applications that are personalized for customers. This interconnectivity between smartphones and vending machines shows how long we’ve come and that the vending industry is starting to catch up.
Cashless payments are becoming a major business pillar, and businesses need this important feature.
With the introduction of cashless payments, confidential information such as bank account details and personal information leaked due to Distributed-Denial-of-Services (DDoS), security breaches, and ATM card scams are dangerous.
While cashless payments are currently the most accessible and convenient, it’s not necessarily safe. This is why financial institutions work with different sectors such as government and cybersecurity institutions to ensure that the proper policies, guidelines, and regulations are implemented to protect consumers. While there is still room for improvement, the different sectors involved should work together and meticulously plan out this relatively new area.
Transparency and security are just as important for the vending machine business as for any other business. Authentication procedures and two-step verifications are necessary precautions to ensure cashless payments are always secure.
Vending machines are at the forefront of automation and have been doing so for decades. With a press of a few buttons here and there, the machine can pick the item of your choice and drop it in the check-out bin for you. Modern vending machines take this to a different level by featuring voice activation and robot arms that choose the item for you instead of the usual drop method.
Touch screen technology is another major improvement we see nowadays in newer vending machines and those with integrated mobile applications can even show their user interface on your smartphone. While not all vending machine companies follow this trend yet, there is a gradual rise in some that upgrade their existing machines with this feature. Consumers today are used to a certain level of automation, and while manual involvement is still relevant, there is no slowing down regarding this innovative trend. We will continue to see more industries following suit.
More Items, More Options
At its core, vending is about selling goods inside a machine. We’ve been so used to the traditional offering of food and drinks that we easily associate vending machines with offering just these two items. Today, that is not the case anymore, and as we previously mentioned in the earlier sections, consumer behavior has changed drastically.
People want more options and are clamoring for diversity such as vegan options, hot and fresh food, and energy drinks. But those are just the base food and beverage offerings with alternative options.
There are now vending machines for just about any item you can think of, such as gadgets, phones, earphones, and even computer products. Everyday items like umbrellas, raincoats, shirts, tickets, eyeglasses, and even books are sold in some vending machines. The possibilities are limitless, and you can sell all kinds of items in vending machines that you wouldn’t even see being sold a few years back.
Another improvement that comes with these product varieties is the vending machine location. Vending locations are not limited anymore to sidewalks or busy streets. Now, you find them in all kinds of business establishments and transportation services such as hospitals, local stores, hotels, airplanes, trains, cruise ships, and many more.
With the push for sustainability solutions and ESG policies, many businesses are looking for ways to lessen their environmental impact and reduce waste generation. This is only possible with the implementation of new innovations and better practices.
In the vending industry, some companies are already introducing eco-vending or reverse vending machines that aim to recycle packaging once the product is consumed. While it is still uncommon, these eco-vending solutions have great potential from a business standpoint since they open up new opportunities to manufacture and sell these kinds of machines. This also provides an incentive for consumers to help the environment without compromising market dynamics and consumer behavior.
Field Management Software
From an operational standpoint, automation helps the business operate smoothly and avoid work disruption that may cause even the slightest inconvenience. Vending machine maintenance and resupply rely on an organized and reliable workflow to ensure the vending machines are working optimally.
To help make things easier for the management and employees, field service management software is one of the newest tools the vending industry can use to plan routes, assign tasks, identify dysfunctional machines and collect relevant data. This internal solution improves the company’s performance and makes the workflow much smoother while monitoring everything that happens in the business.
While some believe this is an off-hand approach, this is quite the opposite as it can easily identify choke points and gaps in your vending machine business using real-time data. Thus your team can implement the necessary solutions and make relevant changes to avoid any operational hurdles.
While there are many more innovations and technologies in the vending machine industry, the few mentioned here are the game-changers that would see the whole industry prospering in the years to come. Coming up with ways to implement new technology is never easy, but with different sectors coming together and sharing their new knowledge or even existing technologies, the path to innovation is much clearer, and the only way is to move forward.