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PAGITA - The platform digitizing the world of vending machines

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Mobile commerce platform takes vending machines into the digital age

Vending machines sell over 90 million food and drink items every day across Europe, with over 80 % of them installed in the workplace. Despite their prevalence and output, most vending machines need to undergo a digital transformation.

Digital Economy

The automatic vending market has high operating costs because of cash management and theft. The majority of vending machines don’t give any information on existing stock and hinder logistics optimisation. Operators can’t collect data on customers and their purchasing patterns. Most of the over 4 million vending machines in Europe are isolated boxes that exchange coins for products. “This doesn’t make the consumer experience very engaging, and limits the efficiency of the companies that operate them,” says Luigi Palumbo, coordinator of the EU-funded PAGITA project. “Unattended shopping or unmanned retail today can be better served by smarter machines.” The project team designed a mobile commerce platform that allows customers to quickly make purchases from vending machines using any channel they prefer: a mobile app, a chatbot for Facebook Messenger and Telegram, or any near-field communication card. The platform also includes a hardware module that’s installed in existing vending machines, and a cloud application for service management. Clear consumer and business benefits PAGITA delivers new capabilities for consumers that will transform their purchasing experience with smartphones. To make a purchase, they deposit money in a digital wallet managed by PAGITA using a credit card or other digital payment system. Users can even access additional product information such as allergens. Vending operators can access an interactive dashboard that displays sales and continuous interaction with customers via geo-localised marketing messages. It analyses purchasing dynamics and creates profiles that can be used in marketing campaigns. By using the platform, businesses can reduce their cash management costs, optimise logistics for stock supply, avoid payment fraud and reduce incentives to burglarise. Digitally revolutionising vending machines Project partners assessed the technology’s technical and market feasibility. This resulted in a business and marketing plan to support successful distribution of the service in target markets. They re-engineered the hardware platform and are rolling it out with selected customers. To fine-tune services for customers, team members tested the solution in Italy – the main market on account of the sheer volume of vending machines. They are currently focusing their efforts on the European market overall. PAGITA worked with its partner companies on enterprise resource planning software integration to provide a complete solution for its customers. “This validated our key value proposition and guided us towards the next steps for industrialising our services, including the establishment of an industrial partnership for product and service development,” explains Palumbo. The project is poised to convert innovation into commercial success. It’s collaborating with a vending machine manufacturer to develop a new vending machine line with a touchscreen interface. A contract was also signed with a company specialised in the pharmaceutical sector to develop a new service that serves this very important market. “PAGITA transforms automatic vending machines into smart and connected points of sale that are capable of providing advanced digital services to consumers and enabling novel, more efficient business models for the industry,” concludes Palumbo. “Our vision was to retrofit these automated machines, connect them and give them new life in the digital era.”

Keywords

PAGITA, vending machines, purchasing, consumers, mobile commerce platform, digital services

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