1st century A.D., Roman Egypt.
People eagerly wait with a token in hand to experience an engineering marvel called the vending machine.
It might seem unlikely but with a massive history of over centuries, vending machines have been a part and parcel of human civilization. From the holy water vending machine in ancient Egypt to the smart snack vending machine in India, it has left a great impact on the global consumer, particularly in the retail sector.
So much so that the market size of global retail vending machines was estimated at USD 51.91 billion in 2021. Moreover, the beverage retail segment contributed 43% of the global revenue with smart coffee vending machines and energy drinks in the lead.
Another modern impact of the vending machine is seen in the way it continues to reshape the retail and F&B sector, especially through new-age smart vending machines. Retailers and FMCG brands are keen to understand how vending machine companies in India are moulding the retail sector by tapping into contemporary consumer behaviour, which expects immediate solutions and instant gratification.
Understanding the role smart vending machines play in retail and F&B, therefore, starts with understanding consumer purchasing trends and behaviour.
What Is Consumer Buying Behavior in FMCG?
The vending market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 8.7% between 2020-2026 in India, anchoring the vending machine strongly in the Indian retail market. This massive growth results from the unique consumer purchasing behaviour in the F&B sector. The traditional neighbourhood kirana stores, malls and hypermarkets are now facing a push from the upcoming micro markets of smart vending machines in India.
Earlier the consumer would wait in line, and go through the bothersome process of finding spare change. Then a shift in consumer behaviour was seen with liberalisation and digitalisation, but the biggest wave of change came forth with the pandemic.
Post 2019 the same consumer is conscious about:
making physical contact
traditional payment methods
the time consumed
finding the exact product all the time, everywhere.
In other words, the buyer is more aware of the consumer experience. Today consumers demand a personalised experience with minimum human interaction. Thus making the Indian retail segment all about convenience. This micro-market has evolved to be interactive, immediate and immersive.
And at the centre of this touchless, cashless and convenient experience is the smart vending machine.
Smart Vending Machine: The heart of retail and F&B sector.
As per the India Digital Payment Report for the third quarter of 2022, there were over 19.65 billion UPI transactions made, accounting for a sum of Rs 32.5 trillion. This, along with the growth rate of 71.7% for digital payment (by 2025) makes for a massive shift towards a cashless retail experience. In addition to this, the consumer demands for unmanned yet inclusive retail experience.
Adhering to the shifts in consumer behaviour, the retail market has turned towards micro markets of unmanned and cashless vending machines solving the following concerns:
Less physical contact
The consumer wants to have an inclusive and immersive shopping experience while maintaining minimum physical contact. A position that is rare to achieve in a traditional retail setup, especially in F&B retail as the consumer shops around various products to compare the prices and specifications.
Smart vending solutions address this concern in just one tap. By scanning a customised QR code, the consumers now can check out all the products on their devices and proceed to pay. This in turn is building a repetitive habit of lesser and lesser contact while shopping.
Vendekin, one of the top vending machine companies in India, provides an intelligent machine controller framework, including hardware and both a mobile app and web interface, that can help minimise physical contact by up to 95 per cent.
Seamless and safe transaction
The retail sector is driven by smart and cashless solutions. This is especially true for FMCG brands. Digital payment options provide the customer with a hassle-free and safer transaction experience.
Traditional vending machines operate on cash and coin systems which often get stuck in the machine and lead to nil transactions. Leaving the customer frustrated. With the automated snack vending machine the consumer gets multiple digital payment options that eliminate the need of finding changes and the problem of refunding.
Thus increasing the sales and a satisfied consumer base for the respective brand.
What more can a smart vending machine do? It will make the shopping experience effortless and quicker. This elevates consumer satisfaction monotonically. With a fast-paced lifestyle, the consumer today wants instant gratification of having the product in real-time with the benefits of the modern retail model.
Which is very different from supermarkets having digital payment options. Even in food and beverage stores with digital payment methods, the consumer has to wait in a long line. This steadily decreases the consumer’s overall satisfaction level.
With modern and smart vending solutions, the consumer can scan, select, pay and enjoy the product immediately.
Available ALL the time
The biggest way vending machines have impacted the retail and F&B sectors is by bringing the stores to the consumer, making sure that the consumer can instantly utilise the FMCG product 24*7 as per their desire.
May it be a public park, office complex, airports and railway stations, gyms, schools or even residential apartments, smart snack or coffee vending machines can be placed anywhere. Making the F&B products available all the time within reach of the target audience.
Moreover, Vendekin’s GDPR-compliant smart back office vending management software, vNetra helps the brand track product performance, inventory levels and much more. Ensuring the vending machine is never out of stock.
With this crucial information, future strategies can be directed and implemented successfully.
Available in varying sizes, technology, cashless payment gateways, and product-specific features, smart vending machines are continuously reshaping consumer habits and in turn the whole retail sector. Even beyond the FMCG brands, smart vending is anchoring itself as a key player among non-FMCG brands in fashion and lifestyle.
What is interesting is that vending machine companies in India, like Vendekin, are focusing on more specific customisations as per the product requirement. For instance, the Natural ice-cream vending machine by Vendekin has an in-built refrigerator to suit the shelf-life of individual products. Likewise, smart coffee vending machines are size-optimised to fit individual office spaces.
The future of the retail and FMCG industry is immersive and immediate as consumer behaviour and lifestyle change rapidly. Those who tap the potential of smart vending solutions are sure to thrive in this disruption.