Photo: Vengo Labs at NYU
While millennial buyers certainly love their online shopping, they are still buying goods the old-fashioned way—in stores and from vending machines. In fact, a recent report from Intel says that according to accounting firm EY, in the next three years online shopping will only account for 19 percent of transactions, and the majority of purchases will still be made in stores and via in-store kiosks.
One new company, Vengo Labs, based in Bethpage, NY, has given the in-store vending machine a lift, creating a new-age smart machine that defines 21st century automated retail. The company recently penned a deal with Blackstone LaunchPad, a campus-based entrepreneurship program with its sights set on automation for college campuses.
The deal introduced Vengo’s smart vending machines to the halls of New York University, Syracuse University, University of Southern California and University of Central Florida, among other schools. The machines offer tech accessories, personal care items, snacks and a variety of other products. But what is different from other vending solutions is that the Vengo machines include streaming video ads.
Amy Stursburg, executive director at Blackstone stated in a AdWeek report that “the campuses that will be exposed to Vengo will serve as a testing ground for future product expansion across campuses in the U.S. and beyond.” The company also intends to sell units to schools, hotels and gyms.
Each Vengo machine on campus carries up to six products and displays a variety of ads from companies such as Hershey, Kiehl’s and Think Jerky. The purpose of this vending technology is to provide an experience much like that of online shopping, where customers can browse options and read through detailed product information. But rather than waiting for the product to arrive, they receive it immediately, giving instant satisfaction.
Smart Inventory Tracking and Payments
The Vengo machines do not accept cash. Shoppers can pay via credit, debit, NFC/mobile and campus cards (Blackboard/CBORD). According to the company, this solution “leads to minimal vandalism, safer restocking and never having a machine eat anyone’s quarter.” All activity and refunds can be viewed and addressed remotely by the retail provider.
The machines connect to the Vengo Intelligence Platform (VIP) that tracks both sales and inventory levels, so the retailer will know the exact count inside the machine at all times. All machines with low inventory can be seen in a single view. The VIP will send email alerts when product cartridges are nearing empty or hit a customized threshold, giving the manager plenty of time to make sure the machines are not losing sales.
Photo: Vengo Labs
In a recent statement, Vengo Labs CEO Brian Shimmerlink explains some of the benefits of the Blackstone deal and the use of the machines on college campuses. “With the real-time analytics, we can provide services from simply monitoring customers' gestures and purchase behaviors to sharing a ton of learnings with other Blackstone LaunchPad members, to help them know what's working.”
Vengo Labs machines let operators monitor customer engagement, number of orders filled, product performance and other important metrics through a cloud-based dashboard, which provides them access to detailed consumer profiles, including names, locations and purchasing patterns. This data can be used to tailor each purchasing experience.
Making the Most of Vending Screen Space
For advertisers, Vengo machines have the potential to serve as a valuable asset. With the ability to reach new audiences, most notably millennials, through the digital screen mounted on each machine, they can purchase ad space and determine content based on location, demographic and other integral data. They’re able to receive real-time feedback focusing on performance and determine whether the ads are having any impact on the audience. The digital vending screens provide an eye-catching and appealing approach to grabbing consumers’ attention.
For retailers, product placement can vary depending on ownership of each unit. Whether their own products are displayed or they choose to stock those from a network of partners is up to them. According to an article in Retail TouchPoints, vending machines can drive up to 155,000 engagements per month and acquire 40 seconds per engagement.
Be a Smart Retail Provider
- You can see what technology is behind the screen in Vengo machines at www.vengolabs.com. The company notes that retailers and solution providers can buy and operate Vengo technology, and it “loves to partner.” Contact the Vengo Labs sales team here.
- To learn more about other in-store IoT retail technology, read the Intel report, “Digital Natives Demand Smart Stores.”