The days of the scratched, beat-up vending machine are long gone. Today vending machines are more connected, user focused, and smarter than ever. The user experience reigns supreme and creates opportunities to engage the consumer and improve their buying experience. Witekio has worked with vending machine companies for years and understands that, even with these advances, there remain challenges that the right embedded software can address.
There are four key challenges that vending machine companies face today:
- A need to optimize costs. Vending machine hardware is already expensive, and the embedded software can also be a significant investment. Optimizing those costs to ensure a return on investment is key to profitability and viability in a competitive market.
- A need to offer update vending machine software updates remotely. All software requires occasional updates and the distributed nature of the vending machine business means that delivering those updates remotely and over the air (OTA) is essential to save on time and operating expenses.
- A need to meet industry standards and to align with local regulations. Vending machines do not exist in a vacuum and must meet industry, local, and national regulatory standards.
- A need to provide a user experience that is appropriate for multiple audiences at once. Vending machine customers are of all ages and backgrounds, and they expect to interact with the machine smoothly and with various different payment methods, and increasingly using non-tactile means such as voice, gestures, or a mobile application.
The Software Challenges
- High hardware and software costs
- Need to remotely setup, monitor, update, and maintain machines
- Need to align with industry standards and update OTA when standards shift
- Multiple payment methods on a single machine
- Need to provide a consistent user experience for customers and technicians alike
The Witekio Response
- Embedded software architecture platforming
- Machine-to-machine or cloud connectivity options
- Experience with industry standard protocols and regulations (EXE, MDV, EVA-DTS, etc.)
- Capacity to integrate various payment options (cashless, credit card, cash) in a single machine
- User-centric development approach
Software is key to meeting the challenges of the vending machine industry.
While vending machine hardware is likely the first thing that comes to mind for customers, the software experience is what turns one-time users into repeat clients. With demands from customers for more intuitive buying experiences, simpler user interfaces, and graphical displays that match or surpass their smartphone experience, software is key to delivering a consistent and positive experience for vending machine customers.
For vending machine companies, software also enables the sorts of business optimizations that decrease costs and increase margins. Internet of things (IoT) data collection, monitoring, and reporting can help optimize machine maintenance, machine replenishment, remote updates to software save technicians time, and smart, customer-friendly branded machines build market recognition that delivers added-value for users and long-term brand loyalty for customers.
Four ways Witekio delivers value for vending machine manufacturers
- A vending machine software platform that optimizes costs and speeds ROI
Vending machine software that can be used across a variety of machines offer cost saving opportunities for the company in a number of ways.
First, by building a common software platform updates are easier, faster, and delivered at the same time across the company’s machines, as well as being faster to develop and code. Second, technicians servicing machines save time and effort in understanding the software they interact with daily, and maintenance times and cost are similarly cut. Third, a common platform provides a consistent user experience no matter how hardware options like screen sizes and interface options evolve.
Witekio engineers are experienced in delivering software platforms for the vending machine industry. They can help companies identify what is generic and what is not, ensure that the single software platform can adapt to machines with different specifications, and optimize hardware and software spends to accelerate a return on investment.
- Connected machines that offer remote monitoring and updates OTA
Connected machines make sense for an industry that relies on widely distributed machines and points of sale. Connectivity also opens up enormous possibilities for remote setup of machines, remote monitoring, and remote updates of either firmware or the graphical user interface (GUI).
Witekio has long experience in a variety of connectivity options for the vending machine industry, including popular options like GSM and Wi-Fi, and the different connection and security protocols associated with each. Witekio engineers can develop networks with either machine-to-machine connectivity or direct cloud connections, with opportunities for remote monitoring and updating that help drive down costs by both lifting machine technician productivity while reducing the need for a maintenance intervention in the first place.
Real-time remote monitoring of vending machines helps optimize machine maintenance, machine replenishment, and machine cleaning routines. In addition, by pushing firmware and GUI updates remotely and OTA, companies save time and money while lifting service quality and improving attractivity to end users with seasonal designs other timely regional UI updates.
- Alignment with industry standards, best practices, and government regulations
Vending machines exist in an environment with multiple standards and practices that must be met, and multiple local, regional, and national guidelines and regulations that must be followed. Witekio engineers draw on their industry experience to design embedded software that meets and exceeds these standards, and that can be easily updated when regulations or practices evolve.
Standard development protocols within the industry that Witekio has previously learnt and adopted include MDB and EXE, as well as data standards like EVA-DTS. Engineers and developers are also aware of the common statistical data that vending machine operators need to manage their businesses and have experience in developing software that gathers, collates, and displays that data in an optimal way.
Witekio also understands that local regulations including available payment methods, the display of nutritional information, and the cleanliness and hygiene standards of the machine are important KPIs for machine operators. The software platforms that Witekio develops are designed to gather, report, and display this data – whether for the customer or the operator – to ensure that a company’s vending machines are always meeting or exceeding regulatory requirements.
- User-centric focus serving customers and technicians alike
There are two groups that interact locally most frequently with a vending machine: the customer, and the technician. Both need to be served with a user interface that makes their interaction fast, simple, and enjoyable.
Witekio has long experience and skill in designing user interfaces that delight customers and aid the work of technicians. Whether supporting multiple payment options (dependent on hardware) for the customer or alerting a technician to the specific failure point prompting an unscheduled maintenance call, Witekio’s engineers and their user-centric development process ensure that interactions with the vending machine are positive, whether the user is purchasing a product, replenishing stocks, or maintaining the machine.
While multiple user and different use cases for the vending machine prompts multiple desired user experiences (UX), Witekio’s UX methodology that integrates both an agile approach and global system vision means that all users of the machine can be served effectively, efficiently, and with the innovation that Witekio is renowned for.