NEW YORK CITY -- Tom Murn's eagerly awaited Lisa vending machine reportedly will hit the market in April, and the technology behind it is poised make a splash that he says will give Amazon Go a run for its money. Murn anticipates turning out 2,000 machines a month, once they begin rolling off the production line.
Murn, owner of metropolitan New York vending giant Answer Group (Farmingdale, NY), made headlines in Forbes magazine today in a Q&A about his cutting-edge advances in automated retailing. After four years of development and a $3 million investment, Murn launched a new company, ViaTouch Media, that began selling a prototype of the $6,000 Lisa machine six months ago.
Patrons open the Lisa machine's door by authorizing payment using thumbprint biometrics, their smartphones or credit cards. The high-tech vender is equipped with smart shelves that "know" which products customers take, and also if they put anything back. The items they retrieve appear on the screen's display, along with the corresponding price. Customers are charged for the products they took once they close the door.
The futuristic unit has a sleek back and modern design that allow versatile placement options, unlike traditional machines that are usually positioned against walls. It features a video display for product information, advertising and promotions. It also has sensors to prevent thefts.
Lisa can sell anything from food and beverages to cosmetics and electronics. It rewards customers for loyalty with giveaways and promotions. It's already in the employee lounges at Apple Stores and Citibank in Manhattan, and the orders keep rolling in, including a recent deal Murn said he entered into with Marriott.
In May, ViaTouch Media will take the Lisa vending concept outside the box with the rollout of its Intelli-Wall and Intelli-Shelf inventory-tracking systems. These technologies allow shoppers to take items from the smart store wall or shelf and pay for them with their digital wallets. If they put an item back on a shelf, its cost comes off their balance.
Murn says the Lisa vending concept will go head to head with Amazon Go, which allows shoppers to use an app to enter and shop at Amazon's brick-and-mortar stores.
Murn told Forbes that he envisions placing Intelli-Wall and Intelli-Shelf in stores like CVS and Walmart, one section at a time. He estimates the cost will be $3,000 for every 6 feet of shelf space, which comes out to about $60,000 for a small store. This capability gives the concept a competitive advantage over Amazon Go, which only has fully automated stores.