Today, unattended retail is a thriving business. What was once synonymous with vending machines selling candy bars, has now grown into a multi-layered segment covering a wide variety of items, like electronics, over-the-counter medicines, and others. Also, the absence of the typical retail setup is making unattended retail more attractive to customers who do not want personal interactions every time they buy something. However, the one aspect that can be a hindrance to the growing unattended retail market is the use of cash-based payments while today’s consumers increasingly seek cashless payments. To this end, USA Technologies Inc. (USAT), with over two decades of experience in the market, is helping unattended retail clients make the transition to cashless payment and telemetry so that they never miss a sale due to missing change.
USAT’s flagship, ePort Connect, is a complete suite of cashless payment, telemetry, and value-added services for the self-serve retail market which includes kiosks, vending machines, micro markets and more. The PCI compliant service platform with built-in NFC capabilities handles all the card processing and settlement for the clients. The platform also seamlessly integrates with the clients’ diverse systems to provide end-to-end services and helps them extend their business. On the other hand, the company’s advanced cloud-based interactive media and content delivery management system, ePort Interactive, takes care of the delivery of remote refunds and enables robust multimedia-marketing campaigns. Furthermore, the company also enhances end user’s experiences with the most innovative technology, including comprehensive customer support, and loyalty and prepaid programs, like MORE– an ultra-convenient payment account and rewards program, where the more consumers pay through the card, the more they can save.
Explaining what makes USAT different from its competitors, Maeve McKenna Duska, VP and Group Manager at USAT, says that they provide a back-end operational software solution, Seed Cloud, which enables vending operators to optimize their operations. With Seed Cloud, the machines out in the field can be easily managed without having to physically visit them as it takes away the guesswork by knowing which machines to visit, how to merchandise each machine’s planogram, and how much product to bring. It also helps simplify operations and takes care of route scheduling, warehouse pre-picking and reporting for vending, micro markets, and office coffee service.“Our customers do not have to be experts to implement this technology, we take that burden as well, and that is primarily the difference maker,” states Duska.
In an instance, Accent Food Services, a Texas-based refreshment services provider, was struggling to expand its reach to new regions and markets because of its platform’s inability to scale efficiently to manage wide-sweeping operations.
USAT is helping unattended retail clients make the transition to cashless payment and telemetry so that they never miss a sale due to missing change
The client company realized that it needed a technology platform designed specifically with unattended retail in mind that can optimize efficiency. So, it chose USAT’s Seed Cloud as a single platform to address the challenges. The platform eliminated the need for multiple vendors and simplified the operational burden of managing numerous vending machines.
In the past, Accent had to send three different routes to serve vending, coffee/pantry, and micro markets, however, now it sends only one truck to complete the same task. The platform has automatically built optimized schedules to remove out of stocks and wasted trips and has also generated accurate pre-kitted machine orders to save driver’s time. After introducing Seed Cloud, the client company reduced its routes by 40 percent—all while improving the quality of service and items each machine receives. “Because of USAT, we have been able to triple the size of our company over the last four years and expand from a regional company to a truly national footprint in 10 states,” said Josh Rosenberg, President/CEO of Accent Food Services.
In another case, Five Star Food Service, one of the largest vending operators in the US, felt the tumult of the Great Recession first hand. At that time, Five Star faced several challenges, including vending machines that act as the means to its sales stood between the company and its end consumers, and clients started to demand cashless payment options. Though initially skeptical about implementing cashless payments, Five Star took the risk, and to its surprise, the company’s sales increased at a higher rate than in locations that accepted only cash. After the positive result, Five Star decided to partner with USA Technologies and implemented ePort card readers on 10,000 of 15,000 machines. Soon after the Phase 1 implementation, those machines started producing results immediately and increased sales by an average of 17 percent, and this was just a start."USA Technologies is the industry leader. Their technology works. It is changing the vending and self-serve industries," says Greg McCall, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Five Star Food Service.
The markets that USAT serves to make more than $120Bn in annual transaction revenues, representing 13-15 million potential "connections." "We understand these markets and provide comprehensive solutions; we will continue to build our presence in other similar market segments as well," concludes Duska.