MYRTLE BEACH, SC -- Vending operators with questions about the implementation of cashless vending found answers at a "town hall" meeting hosted by Apriva and MEI on the second day of the 2010 Atlantic Coast Exposition in mid-October. Some two dozen showgoers took part in the session, which was based on Apriva's popular "Cashless Coach" service that helps operators get started in card-based payment systems.
The meeting included an overview of the revenue-generation and operational benefits associated with cashless vending, as well as information on compliance with Payment Card Industry (PCI) security standards, integrating reporting and vender alarm features with payment technologies, and identifying suitable locations for machines equipped to accept major credit and debit cards.
This last topic attracted a good deal of audience attention. Several operators asked program moderators Robin Houston, Apriva's director of marketing, and Chuck Reed, marketing director for MEI, to describe the attributes of locations that offer strong potential for cashless.
Houston replied that operators should look at locations with a high volume of foot traffic and suitable demographic profile. Younger consumers, for example, are very comfortable with paying by card, so any location that caters to these customers -- sports and entertainment facilities, for example, and large shopping centers -- would warrant a close look by an operator launching a cashless initiative.
Other considerations for choosing locations include product mix and competition in the immediate area, including nearby convenience stores.
"Our research indicates that there is around a $1.50 price per vend threshold for making money through cashless vending," Houston reported. "These solutions wouldn't work if all you're looking to sell are 50¢ bags of chips. However, for $1.50 bottled beverages, accepting cashless payments makes perfect sense."
Apriva's Michael Merriam pointed out that the wireless network connection needed for card verification and purchase authorization also can be used for remote machine monitoring tasks. These not only include sales data retrieval, but also "alarms" for such things as sold-out conditions and malfunctions.