Wireless, Cashless, Touchless Systems Pay Off For 3D Vending

Posted On: 10/11/2018

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  LOOK, NO HANDS! 3D Vending’s Paul Cueman is a pioneer operator of Vagabond and Automated Merchandising Systems’ AMS Touchless vending machine. Located on an Army Reserve base where soldiers often have only their smartphones in hand, the vender has no bill validators, coin mechanisms or credit card readers. It replaces them – and the product selection system – with the vīv platform.
Paul Cueman founded 3D Vending, based in Riverside, CA, in 2009 with three machines and a dream when the recession dealt a blow to his welding career. He began installing USA Technologies’ ePort cashless payment devices on his machines five years ago.

“Whenever we put a reader on a machine, we see at least a 20% increase in overall machine usage,” Cueman said. “And cash intake increases along with incremental sales from credit cards; we know because we can track it down to the nickel. I’m in the vending business, and I don’t carry cash, and meanwhile I’m in the business of collecting cash. Credit is a growing staple of our business. One of my most marginal locations did only $20 in sales a week and jumped to $80 when we installed cashless readers.”

Four years ago, 3D Vending began using Vagabond’s mobile and MDB-powered vending management system, which allows live data to source the VMS in smart devices operators already own. Vending operators gain access to Vagabond’s Insight telemetry hardware, vīv cashless platform, and the vending management software of their choice for a monthly fee.

More recently, 3D Vending added the vīv commerce platform as a mobile payment option at select accounts. The vīv Vending feature allows consumers to walk up to a vending machine, scroll through a menu of products displayed on their smartphones, review product details and make purchases using their preferred form of payment registered in their chosen app. The product then is delivered without the consumer ever touching the machine.

Stickers on the machine instruct users to download the app, open it, enable their Bluetooth and then follow prompts on their phone to make a purchase, which is complete within 10 seconds.

3D Vending is a pioneer operator of Vagabond and Automated Merchandising Systems’ AMS Touchless vending machine. Located on an Army Reserve base, the vender has no bill validators, coin mechanisms or credit card readers. It replaces them – and the product selection system – with the vīv platform.

“It’s a machine for very specific locations, and a bit ahead of its time for most, unless there are other machines nearby with other payment options available,” Cueman stated. “At the Army Reserve base, soldiers carry their ID and a debit card and their phone; they don’t carry a wallet. The results were incredible when we added vīv as a payment option; I would’ve had to leave that account if we didn’t add it. Now we have to service it every other day. After seeing the increase in sales, I added vīv as a payment option in my five largest accounts.”

The operator said he sees a fit for the “touchless” vīv vender in high-rise apartment buildings and large business complexes, where people often have nothing but their phone in hand.

Cueman pointed out that enabling machines with the telemetry needed for cashless payment also enables remote monitoring, which alone repays the investment.

“In California, there are very big vendors and there are ‘weekend warriors’ who check their machines once a month,” Cueman observed. “I’m medium, so remote monitoring is huge for me. I went from driving full-time with 80 machines to cutting out two full eight-hour days with remote monitoring. I prekit at the curb, with a ‘rolling candy store.’ Remote monitoring makes it seamless. I’m looking to bring more drivers aboard because their jobs can be more customer service-based than merchandising-based, now that they know just what to put in the machines, slot by slot, item by item.”

Cueman said he is planning to expand his use of the vīv app beyond payments to promotions at the point of sale.

Juan Jorquera  
Vagabond chief revenue officer Juan Jorquera said “high-service and high-touch” operators like Cueman are driving usage of the vīv vending app forward. vīv is a B2B and B2C commerce app that helps businesses connect with their local communities. Replacing the payment system and selector of a vending machine or micromarket is just one application of its capabilities. vīv also can be used by a bakery selling bread to a restaurant, a restaurant delivering to an office, or an operator selling office, breakroom or janitorial supplies to existing vending locations.

“Operators with tepid account relationships try to get in and out of their accounts with as little interaction as possible, so they are not taking advantage of the opportunities they’d have if they strengthened their account relationships,” Jorquera said.

He reported that a growing number of operators are deploying vīv Supplies, a feature of the app that allows them to sell office, kitchen, janitorial and breakroom supplies, and vīv Markets, which enables “kioskless” micromarket checkout through consumers’ phones at smaller accounts.

“We anticipate that implementing all the capabilities of vīv  – the vīv Vending payment and loyalty app for vending machines, vīv Order Ahead and vīv Delivery, and all its other applications – can triple an operation's revenues from its existing accounts,” he added. “That’s new business at old accounts.”

According to Jorquera, promoting certain products in vending machines through the vīv app nearly doubles their purchase volume. The same or better reportedly holds true when products are promoted in the Micromarket, Supplies, Order Ahead and Delivery segments of vīv, since the featured product is being promoted against more SKUs in those segments.

vīv promotions benefit consumers, through a reduced price; the manufacturer whose product is promoted, through additional sales; and operators, if they share revenues generated by promotions. Operators can also accelerate sales of products approaching their pull dates by promoting them in vīv, Jorquera added.

He also emphasized the value of vīv’s cross-selling capability. Consumers familiar with one service on the vīv cashless application immediately become aware of other vīv uses in that location, such as purchasing office supplies, wholesale food and drinks and micromarkets.

“The conveniences services industry is facing stiffer competition from restaurants, chains, Amazon, Office Depot, Staples, WB Mason, meal prep companies and more, all of whom are delivering into workplaces,” Jorquera pointed out. “The Vagabond team believes that a solution like vīv is how convenience services operators can compete with competitors who have more resources, but do not have the strong business and personal business relationships that convenience services operators have.”