LAS VEGAS -- A cross-section of the state of the art in vending will be on display at the National Automatic Merchandising Association's Gratitude Event at the University of Nevada's Las Vegas campus on Tuesday, April 24, the day before the formal opening of NAMA's 2012 OneShow annual convention and exhibit.
Some 10,000 UNLV students are expected to attend the event, which is set for the courtyard of the Student Union building from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. It will feature product giveaways and entertainment, in addition to the display of cutting-edge equipment. NAMA encourages industry members who plan to attend OneShow to arrive a day early and tour the exhibit. The UNLV campus is located just north of McCarran Airport.
On display will be a Canteen vender styled and equipped for the company's 2bU premium, all-natural products program. The machine incorporates a color LCD screen that customers can use to obtain complete ingredient and nutritional information about the products.
Coin Acceptors, InOne Technology and Royal Vendors have teamed up to present two Royal machines featuring the latest advances in vending technology. The Royal Vendors Red Bull energy drink machine has been fitted with a near-field communication (NFC) transceiver that enables patrons to pay for a drink with a wave of their NFC-equipped smartphones. Also on display will be the latest Royal Eco-Vendor, incorporating a next-generation onboard energy management system and using ozone-layer-friendly CO2 refrigerant gas.
Coca-Cola also will demonstrate two ahead-of-the-curve beverage venders. The Coca-Cola Interactive Vender (CCIV) attracts patrons with a 46" full-color interactive touchscreen front panel with multimedia functionality. And the new Coca-Cola Visual Identity System is a reinterpretation of Coke's classic look, styled with a contoured front panel highlighted by a transilluminated vertical Coca-Cola ribbon to evoke memories of the traditional bell-shaped soda fountain glass.
Crane Co. will unveil its Media Platform concept implemented in a Merchant snack/food vender and a BevMax cold drink machine. Offering high capacity and selectivity and featuring an interactive touchscreen customer interface, the Media Platform provides a broad spectrum of payment options and promotional capabilities. | SEE STORY
Kraft Foods will host its new Diji-Taste interactive vender at the Gratitude Event. Initially deployed as a method of dispensing samples to eligible adult consumers, the freestanding vender features full-length touchscreens on the front and both sides. It incorporates an imaging system that can determine the patron's age and gender, and the interactive displays enable customers to obtain complete information about products. Payment options include a QR code reader. SEE STORY
MEI Payment Solutions will demonstrate four easy ways for vending patrons to pay for their purchases. Gratitude Event visitors will see a bill recycling system that gives change for large-denomination banknotes by paying back lower-value bills, a credit/debit card terminal, a mobile wallet payment option and a reader for stored-value media, all available in a single demonstration kiosk.
PepsiCo will showcase its Social Vending prototype machine, featuring a full touchscreen interactive interface that invites patrons to connect with PepsiCo brands and with one another. Among the many customer options is the ability to buy a Pepsi for a distant friend by entering the recipient's name, mobile number and a personal text message. The gift can be accompanied by a short video made right at the machine. Also on display will be a PepsiCo Dream Machine kiosk, a computerized recycling receptacle that allows patrons to earn points for every bottle or can they recycle, and to redeem those points online for local discounts. Dream Machine, powered by Greenopolis, was developed by PepsiCo in partnership with Waste Management.
Seattle's Best Coffee will debut its new Hot Drink Center, a full-sized full-house single-cup fresh brew whole-bean coffee vender that can deliver a wide variety of drip-brewed coffees and specialty beverages, including cafe au lait in three flavors and hot cocoa. The machine is calibrated to optimize water volume, temperature and brewing time to produce consistently excellent beverages.
U-Select-It will take part in the Gratitude Event with its latest Alpine ST5000 refrigerated food and beverage machine. Two styles will be on display, one incorporating USI's award-winning elevator delivery mechanism and the other fitted with a touchscreen user interface.
VendEver will display and demonstrate its futuristic Cotton Candy Factory that delivers a perfectly shaped dry, fluffy confection on a stick in less than a minute. Patrons can watch the entire process through a large window in the machine front, and then enjoy the warm finished product. VendEver also has teamed up with Fastcorp to develop a Mini Melts vender that dispenses cryogenically frozen (-40°F.) ice cream in a wide variety of flavors. The Mini Melts machine incorporates Fastcorp's efficient base-mounted freezer chest storage system and robotically positioned vacuum pickup arm.
Also on display will be the latest countertop single-cup coffee delivery systems from Flavia, Keurig, Kraft (Tassimo) and Seattle's Best Coffee. G&J Marketing and Sales and Aramark are among other industry-leading companies that plan to take part.
NAMA noted that, in recent years, the vending industry has begun a "robust reinvention" by producing more sophisticated and technologically advanced machines than at any other time in history. These new vending innovations, including facial-recognition technology, cloud computing, transaction flexibility and target marketing at the point of purchase, have given operators a strategic competitive advantage.
"In fact, the vending industry is so radically embracing new technology that leading technology companies, such as Intel and Cisco Systems, are now designing solutions for vending," the association explained. "Some operators who have implemented these new concepts have begun to reverse sales declines. Technology is helping shatter the old pricing models, allowing vending operators to create new ones that are driving revenues and profits for their businesses."
Dan Mathews, NAMA's vice-president and chief operating officer, summarized the positive trends in vending. "The creativity flowing through our industry's veins is creating new opportunities for operators and their businesses, but at the same time, it's giving consumers what they want," he said. "Innovation and technology not only benefit the operator, but also the end-user. That's why we are so excited to share these advancements at this event, and show them the direction the vending industry is headed in 2013 and beyond."