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Providing unlimited payment options by connected vending

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One of the most significant shifts in the payments industry that has evolved from the Covid-19 pandemic has been the sudden fall in cash usage. Now, while the industry as a whole has been aware of the potential for a cashless future for a while, the shift towards contactless and alternative payment methods (APMs), as consumers try to avoid less hygienic payment methods, has risen. So much so that 50 percent of customers think that cash will disappear completely at some point in the future.

One industry that had been adapting to cashless trends well before the pandemic struck is the unattended market and it continues to upgrade its offerings to suit a wider range of industries. Often however, the sticking point for vending operators is that they’re not sure exactly how these technologies work, or how to implement them. And with more and more payment methods entering the scene, it’s become increasingly hard for vending operators to know which solution would be the best fit for their business.

Therefore, it is more crucial than ever for vending operators to know they’re partnering with the right payments advisor, to help guide them through the process and find a payment system that fits their specific needs. With that said, it’s important to investigate the payments trends across the vending market, what the future might bring and what vending operators need to know about newer payments technology and the value it can bring to their unattended retail business operations.

What has been the impact of Covid-19?

The pandemic has affected the unattended market in a variety of ways. From lower footfall to closed premises, vending machines have been left underused. However, just as many other markets have had to upgrade their systems to meet new guidelines and hygiene recommendations, so too has vending.

As cash usage decreased over the course of the pandemic, cards and APMs have stepped in to provide a host of benefits. As customers use and enjoy these seamless technologies, they are fast becoming the preference.

Such developments have provided the opportunity for vending operators to embrace newer technologies which, although ultimately positive, can prove daunting if such retailers are not accustomed to working closely with payments. Fortunately, the vending market is in a great position to take advantage of new contactless technologies, being already low on human interaction and having 24/7 capabilities.

The market can not only cater to consumers’ evolving needs, but it can also provide the flexibility and reliability that consumers are relying on as the world around them is changing. Many new technologies can also improve the backend of vending, offering features such as easier on-the-go stock management and maintenance notification technology.

Ensuring you cater to the consumer

Today, customers want to enjoy the latest innovations and best-in-class customer experiences. This is a given now. Self-reliant and empowered shoppers believe that self-service is a time-saver. They also see cashless and contactless as faster and more seamless ways to pay, as well as a great way to help avoid spreading the virus. This is reflected in the recent consumer demand for a wider variety of APMs. Where once contactless would suffice, customers now expect even more options to pay for their goods and services, from QR codes, to in-app payments and more.

The cashless trend isn’t the only force driving the evolution of the vending market however. Payments, data privacy and security, and customer experience are also important factors to take into account. This is because with constantly evolving fraud developments in the online world, good security is more pertinent than ever, and has to be a central consideration to vending operators – as well as ensuring a seamless customer experience.

From a customer usage standpoint, mobile payments are becomingly increasing popular, driven by the Gen Z market. According to our research, 63 percent of Gen Zers have said they would pay more for a mobile experience.

Trust and a good experience are also considerable factors across all customer groups, with 95 percent of customers claiming their loyalties lie with a company they trust, and 86 percent willing to pay more for a positive experience.

In order to appeal to customers, vending operators must provide the options they want. That’s why vending machines are proving to be such a popular option; not only do they provide a convenient and reliable method of payment for customers, but they also avoid face-to-face interaction. In addition, they can be used to sell a variety of products and accept a variety of payment methods to appeal to all customers, no matter their preference.

How can payments technology drive more revenue?

Vending operators, more than ever before, must engage customers while also enhancing their operational efficiency. Which is why to meet both the operators and shoppers’ expectations, and better respond to new vending challenges they must take note of the solutions that enable merchants to provide their customers with the payment methods they prefer.

However, I understand that payments can seem a bit of a minefield, so there’s no need to worry if you’re not hugely familiar with the offering out there, or unsure where to start – that’s where a payment service provider (PSP) can assist. With the expertise that a PSP brings, along with the technological solutions they offer, vending operators can improve customer journeys in all unattended environments.

Such technological solutions are flexible and can cater to specific business needs, while providing easy, quick, and secure payment methods that protect both the business and the customer’s personal data. They can also improve operational efficiency, increasing business performance with features such as real-time reporting and smart transaction management, to provide a best-in-class customer experience.

With smart devices, a secure gateway and advanced acquiring capabilities, PSPs can help vending operators design a flexible vending solution tailored to their individual and specific needs.

Darren Anderson, Business Development Manager, Self Service, Ingenico Enterprise Retail