How will smartphones impact vending in the next decade?
Time: 2014-05-29 13:35:43   點擊數:   Copyfrom: Guangzhou Light Industry Elec Co., Ltd

How will smartphones impact vending in the next decade?


By Allen Weintraub On Apr 1, 2014


On Jan. 9, 2007, just over seven years ago, Steve Jobs introduced one of, if not the most disruptive pieces of technology ever invented, the iPhone. Currently 56 percent of all adults in the U.S. have smartphones. In 2013, one billion smartphones were sold throughout the world. People spend two hours each day on their smartphones. Smartphones are now the most valuable real estate on the planet.


Experts are convinced that over the next seven years, “consumer engagement” with the smartphone will be the dominant trend in retailing. An article titled “Buy it Now” in New York Times Magazine, reported that in the near future, there will be a significant increase in the use of digital wallets — making everything from your license to your credit card redundant.


Not only will consumers adopt the digital wallet, but at the same time, the number of merchants accepting mobile payments will increase. Also, retailers will develop apps that engage the customer, integrate with product manufacturers and provide sellers with a 360 degree look at their customer.


The central fact that emerged from the responses I received from technology companies for this article, as well as from attending technology shows such as the Consumer Engagement Technology World Show was that vending and micro market operators do not have the necessary IT and marketing infrastructure to develop, and most importantly, to support these smartphone apps. Vending and micro market operators should seek out companies that will provide the technology and marketing support to initially register consumers, develop reward programs and, most importantly, support a relationship of “Constant Content Change.” If a vending or micro market company does not constantly and effectively engage the consumer, the viability of its smartphone apps will quickly diminish. After a year, only 4 percent of smartphone apps are retained by the consumer, see Chart 1. Yet, if your company does not start planning now, where will your company be in the year 2020, just six years from now when mobile payments will achieve 50 percent penetration in retail?


Vending and smartphone apps

Technology in the past decade has focused on the operational side of vending. Remote machine monitoring (RMM) units were invisible to the consumer. The units were installed to improve vend operator efficiency. Consumer engagement was secondary to making sure the vending machines were not out of product. Recently such companies as Air-Vend, VendScreen and Vendors Exchange have added a video display to the RMM units to encourage consumer interaction and to provide FDA nutrition information. The companies are and will be developing smartphone apps to interact with their respective devices.


The installation of credit/debit card readers, of course, has expanded consumer interaction. Steps have been taken to try to engage vending consumers through the use of loyalty cards and programs sponsored by buying groups such as USConnect supported by Sprout, and USA Technologies’ relationship with Isis. It is, however, unclear, as to the extent that such programs have effectively engaged the vending consumer and the number of vending consumers participating.



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