Contactless: As vending operators urgently seek partners to provide consumers with cashless / contactless payment solutions, Mark Parry makes the case for Vianet Smart Machines in a two-part special report. Part two will be published next week.
Google ‘COVID-19 contactless payments’ and you’ll discover page upon page of results, from all over the world. It hardly matters which links you choose to click, the story is essentially the same: the virus has dealt a fatal blow to the pre-eminence of cash as a means of paying for goods and services.
Vending operators who have dragged their feet over cashless now realise that it’s now or never. The question is no longer ‘if’, it’s ‘when’ and ‘with whom’.
Vianet Sales Director, Mark Parry, was recruited from Compass last year. ‘I was closely involved with vending during my time at Compass, so I have first-hand experience of both the industry and the benefits of adopting new technologies such as contactless to micro-manage machine performance’, he said. ‘The opportunity to take a leading role in the development of vending was an offer I couldn’t refuse: I genuinely believe that we are uniquely placed to take the industry forward. There is no doubt in my mind what the answer to the ‘with whom?’ question is: Vianet Smart Machines.
‘The advantages of the combination of Vendman’s comprehensive knowledge of the vending industry with the technical know-how and substantial resources of Vianet will be, in my opinion, the clincher when the UK’s vending operators come to decide about contactless / cashless’, he reflects, ‘Since the acquisition, Vianet has made a significant investment in time, people; knowledge, technology and of course money, to ensure the potential could be realised.
The goal of all that investment? To make a reality of a machine that is technically enabled, not just to vend but also to produce data and alerts. From such a machine, operators would access information from a payment device that provided an instant and accurate financial snapshot. Additionally, the machine would tell them when it was empty, what it had sold and when; whether or not it was performing as expected.
‘The majority of operators already had their ERP in Vendman’, Mark says, ‘but with the advent of Vianet Smart Machines, they could also access live, real-time sales data. What’s more, the revenue from such a machine would short-cut the banking world by going straight into an operator’s finance system, without any human intervention.
‘There are a plethora of companies out there and they’ll all be putting together the case for their own cashless and contactless solutions’, Mark adds. ‘But there’s only one company, Vianet Smart Machines, that can offer such an end-to-end solution. I’m proud of what we’ve achieved in the past couple of years. Quite honestly, I think what we have is exceptional.’
Mark’s top priority going forward is to share the advantages of the Vianet Smart Machines solution with a UK market that’s searching for a solution. At his disposal to do so is a team of four Business Development Managers: Chris Boyle, Alex Taylor; Paul Samsone and Grace Rimmer, plus a Marketing Manager, Rachel Little.
‘We’ve invested in the best people, we’ve been patient and diligent and we have not compromised, Mark says. ‘I’m a football fan and in my mind, it’s not sufficient for Vianet to be a Big Name in the Championship: we should settle for nothing less than challenging for the Champions League.
‘My hope now – my expectation, in fact – is that operators will refuse to panic buy as the pressure to provide cashless / contactless vending intensifies. If they see their response to consumer demands as an opportunity rather than a problem, I’m confident that they will partner with Vianet Smart Machines to build a secure, sustainable future’, says Mark. ‘One consequence of the COVID-19 crisis will be an overhaul of the ways in which people interact; how they work productively. As machine parks shrink, those machines that remain will have to be more productive and more efficiently managed than ever before and to achieve that, operators will need to do rather more than simply install contactless payment devices on their machines. They’ll need to work ‘smart’, and I hope that means they choose to work with Vianet Smart Machines.’