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article imageSmart vending machines set to become commonplace

By Tim Sandle     Nov 12, 2017 in Technology
The digital transformation of vending services is moving at a faster pace. This covers the range from cashless payments to smart machines that can signal when they need to be restocked with supplies.
Many vending machines now accept contactless payments, either by using a credit card or a pre-loaded payment service. Accessing pre-payments is either by a card or a form of biometrics, such as scanning a thumb print. There are, however, more innovations to come and some of these have been highlighted by the magazine Digitalist.
Cashless transactions: Transferring money from a bank and storing it as a cloud-based account accessed by vending devices. The user accesses their account via a log-in, with payments deducted with each purchase.
Purchase history: The ability to review the history of past purchases. This is also through logging-in to the vending machine system and reviewing past transactions. This type of information may be of interest to those on particular diets.
A group of employees examining a smart vending machine.
A group of employees examining a smart vending machine.
Social media: Connecting to social media account like Facebook. Some suppliers of machines think linking devices to social media will prove popular, such as prompts for users to purchase products for their friends.
An example comes from Cadbury. This is a vending machine that matches a person to a flavor of chocolate, based on a review of the person’s Facebook profile (provided a user connects an account to the vending device). The prototype device is called the Joy Generator and described as “the world’s first flavor-matching Facebook-powered vending machine”.
Thinking machines: Smart machines that will offer an alternative product should the desired product be out-of-stock. This can be based on collecting information about the user’s previous spending history.
A Coca-Cola promotional fridge in a bar
A Coca-Cola promotional fridge in a bar
Some of these innovations will not only appeal to consumers, they also present advantages to companies in terms of collecting analytical data. For example, Coca-Cola regularly monitors data from its vending machines and self-service soft drink fountains. This is to enable the company to gain key insights into what custom blends their customers are making.
According to Inc., Coca-Cola are also experimenting with artificial intelligence-enabled vending machines. These are app-controlled machines that allow customers to order drinks from any location and have the drink ready to pick up at a chosen vending machine location.
Coca-Cola has also connected many of its vending machines to the Internet. This is so the company can ascertain which of its machines are busiest; and also for other analytics, like which varieties of the drink are selling the most.
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