AVA Live ‘On-the-Road’ asks ‘How Smart are Smart Machines?’

AVA On the Road

Mark Stevens

This’ll come as something of a shock – it’s over 4 years since the AVA launched its ‘On the Road’ events, with a get-together at RBC in November 2019 and since then, On the Road has become an integral part of the organisation’s outreach to its members.

The latest iteration took place at the home of Scobie McIntosh. Mark Stevens and his team were the gracious hosts and they delivered a compelling and insightful event that delved into two pivotal themes: ‘How smart are smart machines?’ and ‘Is cash dead?’

How smart are Smart Machines?

The relentless march of technology over the past decade has revolutionised the vending landscape. The utilisation of cashless payment solutions  and operational management systems has soared, driven by organic business evolution and accelerated by the pressures of the pandemic. Mark underscored the imperative of modernising vending machines, pointing out that embracing technological upgrades not only boosts operational efficiency by reducing operating costs, but also elevates the customer experience.

David Llewellyn, Chief Executive at the AVA, emphasised the benefits of adherence to the three Cs—’consistency, conversation, and connectivity’— when machines are upgraded. Notably, over 75% of vending machines are now ‘connected’, leveraging telemetry systems and sophisticated management software. A panel of industry experts dissected the question: Are operators fully capitalising on these capabilities? Their conclusion, in a nutshell, was ‘no’.

Vending management software generates an amazing amount of data, all of which can help operators manage their business more closely and cost effectively. The challenge is in ensuring that they’re utilising the information to the max. Modern software solutions transcend mere sales reporting: they offer operators a suite of tools to streamline daily tasks, such as route optimisation, and they provide profound insights into consumer buying patterns. To delve further into the potential of your system, the AVA strongly advises operators to reach out to their dedicated account manager. These companies are committed to guiding operators in unlocking the full range of capabilities and leveraging them to enhance operational efficiency and profitability.

Is Cash Dead?

Lewis Zimbler

Contrary to speculation, cash is very much alive and kicking. Unpacking this subject, panellists including Mark Stevens, Angus Burrell (Paycomplete), Mark Parry (Vianet), Robin Turver (SB Software), Lewis Zimbler (Nayax) and David Bamford (AVA)  shared their insights with the audience. With 2.6 million UK citizens solely reliant on cash with and only 10% of the vending estate totally cashless, the enduring relevance of physical currency is unmistakable. Having said that, the integration of cashless systems into vending has significantly increased the industry’s performance, delivering a substantial 38% increase in sales and a remarkable 55% surge in average transaction value. Within that landscape, it’s hardly surprising that 70% of vending machines now feature cashless payment options.

While traditional coin mechanisms offer a safety net in the event of system failure, the introduction of smart technologies has mitigated such risks dramatically.

For AVA members, the On the Road events present invaluable networking opprtunities that make keeping abreast of industry trends easy and enjoyable. If you can’t make it in person, you might be pleased to know that comprehensive summaries of each event can be found in the AVA’s monthly newsletter, or via your social media platform of choice. To receive regular updates from the AVA, email kennedy.warwick@the-ava.com and she’ll make it happen.

In an industry characterised by rapid evolution, the AVA remains steadfast in its commitment to fostering innovation and sharing best practice. Join them in shaping the future of vending.


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About the author

The Editor

Planet Vending’s Editor is Ian Reynolds-Young and it’s Ian’s unique writing talent that has made PV what it is today – the best read (red) vending blog in the world, and vending’s best read (reed). Ian ‘tripped and fell into vending’, in the capacity of PR executive, before launching a specialist agency, ‘reynoldscopy’, dedicated to the UK Vending business. The company continues to represent the interests of many of the sector’s leading brands.

‘It’s all about telling stories’, he says. ‘We want to make every visit to PV a rewarding experience. By celebrating the achievements of the UK’s operating companies, we’re on a mission to debunk the idea that vending is retailing’s poor relation.’

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