Like many products and services in the digital age, vending machines are getting much more than just a facelift. These trusty, ubiquitous devices are turning into computer-powered, internet-enabled customer-service workhorses with various applications.
Sparked by the introduction of smart functionality, the vending machine market is expected to grow by nearly 25 percent a year through 2027. This means that not only will we see even more of these flexible devices, but also businesses and customers will be turning to them to tackle even more operational roles than ever before.
So what does your organization need to know about smart vending machines, and how can you use them to maximize your operations?
Let’s jump right in:
What You Need to Know About Smart Vending Machines
From afar, smart vending machines will still look the same: They will have their tall, rectangular shape, a visual display, keypads, and various payment options. They can also be branded or have advertisements and host small computer systems.
The key differences, however, are their ability to leverage powerful technology and internet connectivity to:
- Accept a wider variety of digital payment methods.
- Facilitate app-based ordering.
- Integrate with other cloud-connected systems for real-time monitoring, inventory control, and consumer personalization.
- Utilize a more sophisticated internal product distribution system in place of hard-to-maintain coils.
- Enable personal accounts.
Just like their predecessors, smart vending machines can be placed indoors or outdoors, but their new features and capabilities will allow them to have broader applications across more industries, such as:
- Retail stores and malls
- Quick service restaurants
- Airports and train stations
- Healthcare (including EMS, pharmaceutical, and hospitals)
- Office and IT supplies
- Automotive repair
The Benefits of Smart Vending Machines
Although some technology is introduced with big promises and short timelines, smart vending machines are already changing business operations and the customer experience.
Smart vending machines can:
Integrate with other systems for a seamless customer experience.
Vending machines have accepted various payment options for a while, but smart vending machines take this functionality to the next level. This benefit also helps both customers and machine operators.
For example, newer payment technology can:
- Integrate with inventory management systems to proactively ensure product availability.
- Gather detailed consumer insights and transaction data for data-driven decision-making.
Deliver customers the options and information they want.
Soon, deciphering the correct combination of letters and numbers to select a product from a vending machine or having to peer through the glass to guess ingredients, quantity, expiration dates, and package contents will be relics of the past.
This is because vending machines will allow consumers to pre-pay and reserve products online, by phone, or with an employee and pick up their purchase when they are ready. The same functionality will allow consumers to view detailed product information via an app or touchscreen device to examine nutrition and allergen information.
Offer enhanced customer and product personalization.
Use advanced computing power and cloud connectivity to add more personalization to your customer’s experience.
By enabling customers to have personal accounts, not only can they connect their payment information to their device, but your organization can also use this information to:
- Implement tailored marketing messages.
- Provide suggestive sales.
- Personalize information or updates to boost sales based on previous behavior.
- Control available purchases or distributions based on a user’s role or time window.
Provide real-time reports of device health, performance, and usage.
For operations with a wide vending machine footprint, smart vending machines will help increase the ability of organizations to remotely manage, monitor, and maintain devices more efficiently and effectively. Not only will this translate into reduced operational costs from onsite visits from service technicians, but it will also help your business fully leverage remote monitoring and triage support to ensure higher device uptimes.
Take the Right Steps Toward Smart Vending Machines with Burroughs
Smart vending machines provide the ideal blend of efficiency and personalization for businesses looking to give their customers the experience they expect in today’s digital age.
Whether you’re just beginning your research into smart vending machines or looking to retrofit your existing fleet, the team at Burroughs has deep industry experience, technical tools, a digital-first mindset, and vendor partnerships to help your team maximize your investment.
Want to stay on top of the latest self-service, cash automation, and Internet of Things (IoT) technology to keep your business at the cutting edge? Then make sure to take a second and subscribe to the Burroughs blog now!