The vending landscape is experiencing a period of dramatic transformation. Thanks to COVID-19, a growing interest in food health and sustainability, and the continued rise of new payment technologies, the world of landscape is ready for a brave new future.
Back in early 2019, we outlined some of the key vending trends—from mobile and Android payment technologies to new vending locations—that were shaking up the industry.
Nearly three years later, we’re looking at how those trends have gathered pace—and what new trends are ready to make their mark in the years ahead.
Let’s get started. Here are some of the most exciting developments in vending that you can expect to shape 2022 and beyond:
Accelerating Trends: Looking Back at Three Years of Change
Let’s start with those trends that were changing the industry even before the pandemic. Many of these have had a bigger impact than even we could have expected.
1. The transition to cashless payment continues.
In 2019, we saw that cashless payment transactions had grown by 7.9% in a year across the EU. Driven by demands for hygiene as a result of COVID-19, the growth of contactless payment is still going strong. According to the ECB, while the total number of contactless transactions slowed in 2020, the value of these payments grew by 8.7%.
With cashless payment more welcome and widespread than ever before, vending has needed to keep up. Of course, it has - with new technologies available to support payment in all its forms. With studies showing that a choice of payment encourages customers to spend more, this is great news for vending operators.
2. Mobile payment has become a favourite payment method.
We’ve already mentioned cashless payment. Yet something that deserves a specific mention here is mobile. We predicted that this would take off - but the astonishing pace of its rise was hard for anyone to foresee.
In the year 2020, mobile payment users in western Europe grew by an incredible 18.7%. Powered by mobile banking and widespread NFC technologies, consumers expect to be able to pay with mobile wherever they go - even on vending machines.
Luckily, those options are increasingly widespread. Yet change is coming. What’s next is remote mobile payment. This will let customers order products and pay on their mobile, before collecting their order from the machine later on.
This is the next step in customer convenience.
3. Vending is changing location, user, and product.
Vending machines are diversifying. It’s not just about cheap snacks in train stations and workplaces (although they are still doing that). Instead, vending opportunities are everywhere - from high-end to direct-to-consumer locations.
That inevitably means products have changed, too. Machines now sell healthy snacks, vegan and gluten-free products, umbrellas and cosmetics, even eggs, milk, and meat - i.e. fresh products that would never have been previously thought possible. For vending brands, that means new use cases and new business opportunities.
But be aware. Products have changed, but so have packaging demands. Thanks to changing European regulations, plastic has fallen out of favour. This positive change in environmental attitudes will remain central over the years ahead.
4. Opportunities for added value are growing.
Back in 2019, we asked “what if vending machines could know your preferred language, or your first-choice drink?”. Thanks to smartphone recognition and the use of biometric data in vending, in some parts of the world machines can now know exactly that.
If the growth of personalised vending has been slower in Europe than elsewhere, the industry continues to deliver added value to its customers.
Touchscreen technology, for example, is powering tailored marketing based on the weather, the time of year, and the time of day—while new functionalities give operators an opportunity to enhance rewards, loyalty offerings, and vouchers.
New Trends in Vending
Alongside the existing trends we’ve mentioned, which new trends have emerged recently?
Here are four new developments that you can expect to see much more of in the year ahead—and well into the future.
5. Micro-markets are the newest vending opportunity around.
Imagine a fully-self-service space where customers can enter, select their product by hand, and pay using contactless payment. That’s a micro-market, a tech-driven hybrid of a vending machine, a self-service cafeteria, and a grocery store.
These solutions are coming on leaps and bounds, because they offer amazing benefits in terms of customer choice and convenience and in terms of efficiency for operators.
In fact, micro-markets are the fastest growing segment in the vending space, with a growth of 39% from 2018 to 2020. Driven by consumer demands for hygiene, contactless payment, and greater convenience and choice, we are likely to see much more of them around.
6. Retrofitting will achieve sustainability while bringing down costs.
Sustainable business practices will perhaps be the biggest trend of the decade, in all industries. One way that the vending industry will be doing its part is through retrofitting.
While technologies change at pace, it doesn’t mean old machines have to be sold for scrap. By fitting old machines with the newest technology - including touchscreens, state-of-the-art payment devices, and Internet of Things (IoT) capabilities - vendors can cut down on waste, while delivering value to customers and reducing the costs of maintenance.
7. Technology will drive further convenience for customers and operators.
Vending machines are no longer the clunky boxes they used to be. In fact, customer interaction in vending has gone beyond their payment process. Equipped with new technologies, machines can give customers a more complete experience - with easier product selection, troubleshooting, and customer service opportunities.
But the benefits of technology aren’t just for customers. Smart vending machines powered by telemetry offer operators easier maintenance, better stock management, and increased cost efficiency. Technology promises an improved vending experience for everyone.
8. Android is coming to revolutionise payment.
With payment terminals powered by Android, big changes are on the horizon. These app-powered payment devices offer potentially limitless functions. We’re talking new opportunities for maintenance, payment, advertising, and much more - all on one device.
App-powered technology is the future of payment across unattended and attended locations. It will reduce set-up and maintenance costs for operators while providing an interface that users already trust.
Find out more about what CCV is doing to drive Android payments here.
A Bright Future for Vending
It’s an exciting time to be part of the vending industry. Thanks to advances in technology, payment, and vending locations and products, operators are able to offer more choice and convenience to customers while benefiting from more streamlined and cost-efficient maintenance too.
At CCV, we’re at the heart of these changes. Get in touch to find out how we can lead your vending business into the future.