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November 28, 2008

Could vending machines ease retail crisis?

Research finds Brits ready to ‘vend spend’

By Jason Stamper

Eight out of ten British shoppers are happy to swap their purchasing from more traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ retail outlets to vending machines, according to a survey of 1,000 shoppers.

The research, commissioned by payment technology firm Ingenico, found that attitudes to making purchases from vending machines is changing. The research looked at three areas when using a kiosk or vending machine: the maximum amount willing to be spent on a single purchase, what type of goods consumers would be happy to buy, and what the preferred method of payment would be. 

The results show that the UK is catching up with the US, where usage of kiosks and vending machines is already widespread, and even Japan, where there is already a vending machine for every 23 people.

However Ingenico noted that the change in attitudes is an evolution rather than a revolution: Nearly two-thirds of respondents were comfortable paying up to £2 in a vending machine, however £5 materialised as the ‘money-ceiling’ and, further to this, only 1% would spend over £10.

Surprisingly, nearly 5% said they would be comfortable spending any amount. But 16.5% would still rather not use kiosks or vending machines at all.

Although coins are still overwhelmingly the most popular means of payment (96%), over a third (34.5%) of those surveyed would use debit/credit cards in a vending machine. One tenth (9.9%) of respondents said they would be happy to use their mobile phones for payment — a clear indication, Ingenico said, that UK shoppers are increasingly confident with new, more convenient payment methods.

This mirrors British Airways’ latest initiative, whereby its customers will now be able to check-in using their mobile phones with the introduction of its remote check-in service.

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As for the type of purchases consumers might make from vending machines drinks (91%) and chocolates and small confectionary (86.9%) were perfectly acceptable with most people, as you would expect.

Low cost electrical goods — such as batteries, camera films and memory cards — showed some acceptance as nearly a quarter of respondents were comfortable purchasing these items from a vending machine.

Consumer electronics, including MP3 players and digital cameras, were the least popular at 6.8%.

This research shows that British consumers are increasingly technology-savvy with 83.5 percent of respondents happy to use kiosks and vending machines, said Gregor Rankin, marketing manager at Ingenico. But let’s not get carried away – this is an evolution, not a revolution.  Shoppers are still a little wary and, although happy to spend in low values, they shy away from expensive goods and are perhaps less confident at the moment than consumers in the US or Japan.

Ingenico said that the emergence of contactless payment technology, including its own Vending Pass contactless system, may also help lead to a rise in vending machine sales.

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