Since the first commercial coin-operated vending machines were introduced in London to dispense post cards in late 19th century, the vending industry has grown in leaps and bounds.
The modernisation of vending solutions are being driven by advancements in cloud computing, internet connectivity and mobile capabilities which are making it easier for forward-thinking vending technology companies to revolutionise how consumers shop and how retailers sell.
Vending companies are replacing once basic rotary or robotic-arm machinery with more network-capable fixtures and communication. And while some vending companies have focused on easing the cash handling dilemmas with mobile payment applications, other organisations like ShelfX, are pushing the envelope and also completely re-engineering the dispense mechanism.
With Web-connected, weight-sensing shelves, and an easy-to manage back-end system for operators, ShelfX has developed a highly intelligent vending machine that allows customers to freely browse, shop, and purchase any quantity of fresh, healthy snacks, beverages and meals. Vending operators can now stock any items, refrigerated or not, of any volume, and make it easily available to the public. Operators can also receive real-time inventory alerts when stock is low or nearing expiry, and have the ability to dynamically change prices of items, or instantly initiate promotions to everyone, or even just specific groups of consumers.
Available for refrigeration or not, these new vending fixtures appear as glassfront fridges and include the weight-sending shelves inside and a locking mechanism on the exterior. These cases remain locked until a customer presents an RFID-enabled card, credit card or mobile device. With a quick swipe of the card, the user account is verified, the door is unlocked and the customer can take any quantity of their preferred item and simply close the door to complete their purchase.
All the intelligence is at the shelf, which knows exactly what was taken. Powerful processing software on the back-end then charges the account for what was purchased and emails a receipt to the consumer once the door is closed and re-locked. Instantly, the inventory is updated so that the operator knows how many items are left on each shelf, which significantly boosts efficiency and offers better tools for tracking sales