Unattended commerce is not a new concept; the idea has been around since the 1880s, when the first mechanical vending machine was invented to sell postcards at railway stations.
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Data for today’s episode is provided by Mercator Advisory Group’s Report: Unattended Commerce: The Store of the Future?
Five Common Attributes of Unattended Commerce Technology:
- Convenience: Unmanned kiosks can be placed more closely to the customer and for longer hours.
- Durability: Products sold through these machines are not easily perishable and may remain usable until depleted.
- Finite Selection: The consumer does not have to interact with the product to decide to buy since the product is either well-known or is a commodity like fuel, cash, or transportation tickets.
- Scalability: More customers can be served with fewer human resources since only a small number of staffers is needed to service the machines.
- Product Security: The product is protected by the machine which makes theft difficult and unlikely.
The time is right for unattended commerce.
Unattended commerce is not a new concept; the idea has been around since the 1880s, when the first mechanical vending machine was invented to sell postcards at railway stations. Since that time, convenience vending in the United States alone has grown to a $31 billion industryi, not including automated sales of transportation tickets, cash dispensed at ATMs, and other kiosk-based purchases. Unattended commerce in the 21st century is more than just vending; it strives to combine the speed and convenience of a vending purchase with the product selection and shopping experience that consumers expect at their favorite stores.
A new research report from Mercator Advisory Group, Unattended Commerce: The Store of the Future?, reviews the effects of the pandemic and the continued growth of unattended commerce. This report looks at the key factors that have the potential to accelerate or delay the tipping point for the next phase of retail shopping and payments.
“Customer expectations are on a path of rapid change, as shoppers reward businesses that deliver the best combination of product selection, price, and experience. The constraints around physical commerce and interactions are rebalancing consumers’ value equations, where a positive buying experience is beginning to outweigh product choices and price,” stated the author of the report, Don Apgar, Director of the Merchant Services and Acquiring practice at Mercator Advisory Group, and author of this report.