The most significant shift in the payments industry to evolve from the COVID-19 pandemic has been the sudden fall in the usage of cash. And while the industry as a whole has been aware of the potential for a cashless future for a while, the shift towards contactless and alternative payment methods (APMs), as consumers try to avoid less hygienic payment methods, has got to the point where 50% of customers think that cash will disappear completely at some point in the future.
As the ultimate contactless service, the unattended market had been adapting to cashless trends well before the pandemic struck, and it continues to upgrade its offerings to suit a wider range of industries. Often however, the sticking point for vending operators is that they’re not sure exactly how these technologies work, or how to implement them. And with more and more payments methods entering the scene, it’s become increasingly hard for vending operators to know which solution would be the best fit for their business. It’s therefore more crucial than ever for them to know they’re partnering with the right payments advisor, to help guide them through the process and find a payment system that fits their specific needs.
What has been the impact of COVID-19?
The pandemic has affected the unattended market in a variety of ways. From lower footfall to closed premises, vending machines have been left underused. However, just as many other markets have had to upgrade their systems to meet new guidelines and hygiene recommendations, so too has vending. As cash usage decreased over the course of the pandemic, cards and APMs have stepped in to provide a host of benefits. As customers use and enjoy these seamless technologies, they are fast becoming the preference.
Such developments have provided the opportunity for vending operators to embrace newer technologies which, although ultimately positive, can prove daunting if such retailers are not accustomed to working closely with payments. Fortunately, the vending market is in a great position to take advantage of new contactless technologies, being already low on human interaction and having 24/7 capabilities.
The market can not only cater to consumers’ evolving needs, but it can also provide the flexibility and reliability that consumers are relying on as the world around them is changing. Many new technologies can also improve the backend of vending, offering features such as easier on-the-go stock management and maintenance notification technology.
Keeping the consumer in mind
Consumers today want to enjoy the latest innovations and best-in-class customer experiences. These shoppers believe that self-service is a time-saver, and they also view cashless and contactless as faster and more seamless ways to pay – a fact which is reflected in the recent consumer demand for a wider variety of APMs. Customers now expect even more options to pay for their goods and services, from QR codes, to in-app payments and more.
Alongside the cashless trend, data-security and customer experience are two other factors driving the vending market evolution. With constantly evolving fraud developments in the online world, good security is more pertinent than ever, and has to be a central consideration to vending operators – as well as ensuring a seamless customer experience. From a customer usage standpoint, mobile payments are becomingly increasing popular, as driven by the Gen Z market. According to our research, 63% of Gen Zers have said they would pay more for a mobile experience.
Trust and a good experience are also considerable factors across all customer groups, with 95% of customers claiming their loyalties lie with a company they trust, and 86% willing to pay more for a positive experience. To appeal to ever-hungry consumers, vending operators need to provide the options they want. In the unattended market, this is relatively simple - not only do they provide a convenient and reliable method of payment for customers, but they also avoid face-to-face interaction.
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Using payments to drive revenue
More than ever, vending operators must engage customers while also enhancing their operational efficiency. That’s why, to meet both the operators and shoppers’ expectations, and better respond to new vending challenges, there are solutions that enable merchants to provide their customers with the payment methods they prefer.
Payments can be a minefield, so there’s no need to worry if you’re not hugely familiar with the offering out there, or unsure where to start – that’s where a payment service provider (PSP) can assist. With the expertise that a PSP brings, along with the technological solutions they offer, vending operators can improve customer journeys in all unattended environments. Such technological solutions are flexible and can cater to specific business needs, while providing easy, quick, and secure payment methods that protect both the business and the customer’s personal data.
With smart devices, a secure gateway and advanced acquiring capabilities, PSPs can help vending operators design a flexible vending solution tailored to their individual and specific needs. To find out more, please visit:
Darren Anderson is the Business Development Manager, Self Service. With a particular focus on Unattended Payments, Information Security, and considerable experience in Account and Project management, his career spans over 20 years. Darren is engaged across the vending industry as Ingenico develops further services to address this and other self-service payments markets.