There's a growing trend in combining vending machines andinteractive kiosks — and then integrating those vendingkiosks with newer technologies such as digital signage and mobilepayments. The next generation of intelligent vending kiosks could use digitalsignage to attract more buyers to purchase the products within themachines, but also bring in added revenue through third-partyadvertising — with the connected technology then alsoenabling secure credit and mobile payments, remote inventorymanagement, demographically targeted advertising and dynamicpricing. If you look back at the history of vending technology, the last bigtechnological advance was when bill acceptors/changers wereintroduced to the machines, according to Raj Maini, Intel Corp. 's marketing director for digital signage worldwide, and thathappened quite a while ago. |
"We expect now that, with the advent of digital signage and thescreen becoming the central focus of interactivity, the vendingchannel now gives the opportunity for the vending operators, thebrands, to attract these consumers more as they make the vendingkiosks not only a device that dispenses something but also aninterface that allows the consumer to interact with it," Mainisaid. "And at the same time, on the back side of it, the vendingoperator is able to do a better job of managing the machine and abetter job of understanding what is being bought." There's a tremendous opportunity in the future of intelligentvending for both brands and consumers, said Ross Elkin, vicepresident of sales and marketing for kiosk provider Vigix Inc. "I firmly believe that convenience is one of the fundamental trendsthat's driven the consumer marketplace across a number ofcategories over the past 20 years or more," he said. "In a lot ofways I think that a vending kiosk, a kiosk that has the ability todeliver physical products, in combination with all of the digitalcapabilities is the next step in the evolution of convenience." And the next step is coming for a myriad of reasons, Elkin said. The consumer population is increasingly sophisticated and demandingin terms of what they want, when they want it, how much informationthey want, and the degree of control they want over an interaction,he said.
Consumers want to be able to exert control over their transactionsand interactions. They want to be able to move at their own pace;they want brands to give them all the information that that theyneed; and they want to be able to opt-in to interactions. And themachines also allow for far more interactions and data collectionwith consumers, providing brands or retailers with invaluableinformation. "In a lot of ways we view a kiosk as ideal for both the consumerand the operator or the brand," Elkin said. "I think it serves bothsides, the consumer and the seller, extremely well; it combines inone place a lot of the things that we as consumers want and that weas business people or brands want to deliver." Planning for the future now With a huge installed base of vending machines worldwide, withMaini citing some estimates of 15-20 million deployed globally,it's time now to figure out what the next generation of intelligent vending kiosks will look like.
That's shaping up to be vending machines with elements oftouchscreen digital signage interfaces, security for not only cashor coins but credit or mobile payments and software flexibilitythat allows deployers to dynamically update screen content orproduct pricing. Many of the vending machines out there are not connected, sooperators don't know at any given moment if the machines areworking properly or if they have the correct inventory, Maini said. "So the whole idea of being able to get to these remotely andmanage those is a very big challenge," he said. And the same kind of software and computing technologies that allowvending kiosks to utilize digital signage would allow operatorsremote access to more information about the machines.
Deployers can use the touchscreen interface to give consumersinformation on the products, for instance, displaying thenutritional value of food items, Maini said. And the sameprocessing power that allows for doing remote management of thescreens also allows for securing cashless transactions, anddynamically updating advertising — and then gets to the nextbusiness model where deployers can use anonymous video analytics tobetter understand the demographics of buyers and target advertisingfor better sales lift. Elkin said, however, that the next generation of vending kioskswill also be able to connect to other places, whether it's abrand's website, a social media site or a retailer's loyaltyprogram. If the consumer can't find what they want in the kiosk,they could connect to an e-commerce site to buy the product theywant and have it delivered, for example.
Or a customer could take aphoto with the kiosk and post it to the brand's Facebook page tothen have the kiosk print out a coupon for their next purchase. "And then there's the whole interaction with mobile payments,whether it's scanning Google Wallet or text-to-pay, it all fitstogether so from the consumer standpoint it makes for a greatexperience," Elkin said. Bringing in more information; sending out targeted advertising From the brand's perspective, a digital signage vending kiosk canbecome "in a lot of ways the ultimate opt-in interactive brandingexperience," Elkin said. Contrast the ability to have a two-way communication with consumersthrough a touchscreen interface with the old days of one-waycommunication via newspaper or television ads.
"We've evolved now to a point where we recognize that opt-ininteractions, or interactions that go beyond just seeing a message,are more valuable," Elkin said. If consumers can have a back and forth with brands via aninteractive digital signage system, asking questions about productsor finding reviews of products, the vending kiosk experiencebecomes more like the e-commerce experience and allows the consumerto opt-in to more interactions. And concurrent technologies, like Intel's AIM Suite for anonymousviewer analytics or Vigix's ability to track the activity on thekiosk's user interface, allows operators to see who is interactingwith the kiosk and the brand and how they're doing so. "All of that information from the brand standpoint is tremendouslyvaluable," Elkin said.
Collecting that kind of data also allows vending kiosk and digitalsignage operators to better target the advertising on a specifickiosk, either to the person standing in front of it at the momentor to the demographic information of the majority of its customers. Using anonymous video analytics, also sometimes called anonymousviewer analytics, also can allow for some fairly novel deployments,Maini said. Intel recently worked with Kraft Foods to deploy the Jell-ODiji-Taste kiosk, a digital signage-equipped kiosk that also usedIntel AIM Suite technology to dispense samples of a new Jell-Oproduct aimed at adults only to adults and not to children. Similarly, Maini said operators could also use that kind ofdemographic information, male or female, adult or child or seniorcitizen, to show on the kiosk digital signage the right kind ofproducts that the deployer wants to target to that demographic.
"If you look at the whole business model where you want to not onlyhave people buy what you have but you also want to influence themto buy what they need to have, advertising becomes a very goodchannel for that," Maini said. "And given the amount of trafficthat passes by these machines it becomes even more important." Check back early next week for Pt. II of our look at the future ofintelligent vending kiosks. Read more about digital signage advertising .
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