As reported by Vending Times, “Television sets no longer have dials on them,” said Dr. Michael L. Kasavana, Michigan State University (E. Lansing, MI). “And vending machines no longer require you to establish credit before making a selection.”
Kasavana, who is the National Automatic Merchandising Association endowed professor of hospitality business at MSU’s Eli Broad College of Business, moderated a panel session on “Enhancing Technology Performance” at the 2014 NAMA OneShow.
Dr. Kasavana, who became the NAMA endowed professor in 1999, recalled that he had coined the term “v-commerce” to describe the convergence of data processing and data communications on the emerging generation of vending equipment at the turn of the millennium. Today, he said, it’s time to replace that summary with the term “v-engineering” to describe the emergence of advanced self-service technology. The industry continues to change rapidly, he noted, affected by a profusion of alternate payment systems, digital media, touchscreens and network applications. Especially noteworthy has been the arrival of enhanced consumer interfaces that, among many benefits, can help in product marketing.
New-generation vending machines with touchscreen customer interfaces have some similarity to websites and, like them, will benefit from user-friendly layout. “The design of the display does affect sales,” the speaker emphasized. “Operators need to increase same-store sales, and part of doing that is converting those ‘touches’ into purchases.”
Effective design of the screen display can make it easier for patrons to find a desired product and the information about it that they want, he said. It also can encourage customers to take advantage of options like multiple purchases in a single transaction, or promotional incentives, to increase the size of the transaction. Interactive screens allow the development of a wide variety of customer incentives, giving operators access to merchandising tools that previously were confined to manual retail outlets.
Enabling consumers to use their smartphones and tablets to make payments also offers operators the opportunity to benefit from other capabilities of consumers’ wireless smart devices. Not only can contemporary mobile payment systems offer the convenience of use with debit and stored-value cards, but also the promotional power of loyalty and reward programs, “social vending” (gifting), and more.
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