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Using Digital Signage For Vending Machines

Jun 19, 2008
Vending machines have undergone a radical transformation. Gone are the machines that required frequent maintenance and attention. In their place stand robust, self-service vending machines that offer user-directed interactivity. Marketers and advertisers have realized that the real estate on the face of a vending machine can be leveraged to yield a host of exciting new opportunities. Digital signage technology makes this possible. In this article, we'll take a closer look at the benefits of using digital signage on vending machines. We'll explore how this technology can be deployed to extract more value, increase ROI and create a unique experience for the customer.

Benefits For Vending Companies

Vending machines have remained the same for a generation. Revamping them wasn't a serious pursuit. Recently, vending companies have reconsidered how to transform their stodgy machines into technological powerhouses that can deliver more value. They've turned to digital signage.

Vending machines have a unique presence. Everyone who approaches a vending machine is already prepared to purchase an item. Marketers realize this is a perfect opportunity to leverage digital signage. By installing LCD screens, they can deliver advertising to a targeted buyer. The ads displayed can be programmed according to the items selected by the user. These ads can upsell the user to purchase additional items. The impact of delivering user-targeted content at the point of sale is significant. At the moment of making a buying decision, the customer is more open to purchasing complementary items.

Another benefit of using digital signage is the lower maintenance expense. Older vending machines rely upon mechanical parts. These parts fail often. When they malfunction, the vending company is required to send an employee to repair the machine. The expense of hiring a worker to do this catapults the vending company's costs, making each customer transaction less-profitable. A vending machine that uses digital signs can replace many of the mechanical parts with digital alternatives. They last longer. Therefore, maintenance costs are dramatically reduced.

Digital signage can deployed across a network of hundreds (even thousands) of vending machines. Vending companies can sell advertising space to other businesses. Or, they can use that space to deliver targeted messages to different demographics. For example, vending machines in universities can display messages and advertising that are best-suited for young people. Machines in retail stores can be programmed with messages appropriate for that demographic. A digital signage network can be controlled remotely, delivering the right message to the right people at the right time.

Placement Counts

Currently, marketers are testing the effectiveness of different placement options for digital signs. There are a few places where an interactive LCD screen can be located on a vending machine. For example, a small screen that elicits a response from the user can be placed directly above where the user pays for items. Alternatively, a larger screen can be used to splash messages across the top of the vending machine (at eye level). Each location can yield value based upon the purpose of the screen (advertising, upsells, interaction, etc.).

More Than Chips And Candy

Vending machines are no longer used simply to hawk chips and candy. Today, marketers have realized how powerful these machines can be if they're properly used. By implementing digital signs, users can be coaxed to buy products with higher margins (such as iPods and digital cameras). They can be gently persuaded to purchase complementary products which add value to each transaction.

Digital signage makes vending machines more interactive, intuitive and reliable. The customer has the opportunity to buy a broader range of products without the headache of waiting in long lines. The vending company has the chance to deploy an army of machines that are remotely-controlled to deliver targeted content and advertising to customers. As the technology develops, digital signage will offer new levels of robustness, flexibility and efficiency.
About the Author
Four Winds Interactive is a leading provider of digital signage software and signage networks.
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