As most of us would know, there was a time when vending machines were a rarity, and at the time of being introduced in the country, people were fascinated by the concept. For the most part, when they were a new feature, vending machines were often spotted only at Fun Fairs, Amusement Parks, etc., and dispensed snacks and canned/bottled drinks. However, much like consumers’ expectations and preferences, vending machines, too, have evolved over the years, majorly since their invention by Percival Everitt in 1883.
Especially since the pandemic’s onset in early 2020, the world as we knew it had transformed significantly. So, from the time they were invented, vending machines have been used to dispense nearly every daily-use item, including newspapers, chewing gum, photographs, cigarettes, and even piping hot meals. This is thanks to rapidly advancing technology, which has taken center stage in our daily lives. From the business standpoint, especially for the vending machine segment, it has been nothing short of a game-changer. But before we delve into how tech has revolutionized the sector, here’s an overview of the Indian market for vending machines.
The Indian market scenario and potential
According to research, the Indian vending machine market is projected to witness robust growth between 2020 and 2026, with a14.9% CAGR on the back of rapid urbanization, digitization, and technological advancements. With the pandemic increasing the demand for contactless retail, the smart vending machine market leveraging cutting-edge technologies, including AI, IoT, Data Analytics, and Robotics, has seen substantial growth in recent years. But we’ve barely reached the tip of the iceberg. India has a whopping65 lakh potential locations in 500+ cities where vending machines can be installed, making it an under-tapped market space. Thanks to technology, we’re gradually discovering and utilizing our market potential.
The tech behind smart vending machines: Facilitating seamless customer experiences and improving profitability for retailers
As mentioned earlier, the demand for contactless retail paved the way for an upswing in demand for vending machines. Deploying technologies like AI, IoT, and advanced sensors, players in the segment, have built smart vending machines that have enabled even large chain stores to shift from a traditional retail model to a self-purchase and checkout sort of model through smart vending machines.
A crucial part of the unmanned retailing and F&B segment, smart vending machines offer customers seamless and convenient purchasing experiences. Additionally, smart vending machines are equipped with features like touchpads and touchless screens that allow customers to browse the menu with ease. They take an AI-driven approach that delivers personalized experiences through analytics.
Smart vending machines can also provide sellers/retailers with data about customers’ preferences, enabling them to provide a pleasant experience. And in case of failed or cancelled orders, the machines process the refund automatically, preventing the customer from losing money.
Besides, since they are driven almost entirely by technology, retailers can operate them from anywhere and monitor them remotely, thereby saving costs, time, and resources that they would otherwise require for a physical store. But what about the inventory, especially the perishables? How do they keep track of it? Once again, tech is the answer.
Since smart vending machines leverage sensing technology and data analytics, they not only track and manage inventory to ensure proper stocking but also monitor the environmental conditions to keep perishable items intact.
Garnering real-time data based on each customer’s purchases, the machines provide real-time data to retailers to enhance the decision-making process. Then, there’s also the matter of security, not just in terms of money but the inventory too. However, smart vending machines have built-in security systems that mitigate the risk of product tampering and loss. And they’re customizable as well!
Today’s consumers expect tailored offerings that will elevate their buying and snacking experiences. Smart vending machines, with their leading-edge tech-driven systems, can be designed according to retailers’ requirements and only need an initial investment of INR 1.5-2 lakhs. With proper maintenance, they can last for up to 10 years, making them cost-efficient and convenient. Given their numerous features and benefits, it’s safe to say that smart vending machines are now becoming a part of mainstream retail and revolutionizing the sector.