Here's how we're powering the future of automated retail

In retail, every transaction is an opportunity. An opportunity to make an impression. An opportunity to build revenue and turn product into profit.

At least that’s how we used to look at it.

The truth is, every transaction is also an opportunity to learn.

About your customers. About how they shop, what they buy and why.

And in today’s changing retail landscape understanding why the sale happened, is as important as making the sale itself. So… how do you capture those rich, in-the-moment transactional insights? Here’s a hint: it’s not a survey.

Fully automated, with two independent camera tracking systems, PopCom’s new Smart Kiosk learns as it sells… autonomously tracking age, gender and even subtle emotional cues, for every transaction.

Captured in real time, this data helps our clients understand consumer intent on a much deeper level — yielding stronger insights that lead to better products, and more relevant consumer experiences.

And PopCom’s Smart Kiosk isn’t just programmed to learn… it’s programmed to act. Each Kiosk can fine-tune its messaging, seamlessly responding to consumers’ emotional feedback. For instance, if a consumer appears confused, the kiosk will note these moments and provide analytics to the brand to suggest product changes in display, marketing language and pricing. Combining the demographics of the consumer with the intent analytics of PopCom’s white labeled technology platform creates a powerful, data rich, learning experience. This solution is applicable to a wide array of client needs and retail applications.

We invite you to join us in taking the next step in insight-enabled retail — book a demo call below.

To see how we're at the forefront of the retail revolution, book a demo with our team today.

Book a Demo


PopShop Kiosk: Making the mysteries of the modern consumer… a little less mysterious

This March, I represented PopCom at the ShopTalk conference in Las Vegas.

It was an enlightening experience, to say the least. With more than 2,400 companies in attendance, every one of them seemed eager to answer that one burning question…

In a changing retail landscape, how do we truly satisfy the modern consumer?

As it turns out, the answer is really pretty simple: Understand them.

According to Marc Lore, President and CEO of Walmart Digital, the customer experience is everything — more than product, more than price, more than the reputation of your brand. In the future, success in retail will be defined by the ability to deliver an ideal customer experience, every time, everywhere.

But to truly understand what’s ideal for your consumers… you need data. Timely. Relevant. Insightful. Data.

That’s where PopCom comes in.

Harnessing the power of automated retail technology, our new PopShop Kiosk yields sharp, relevant, organic consumer insights on a whole new level. In a sense, it’s a vending machine with a brain — and that brain allows it to mine real-time insights, in the very places your customers live, work and play. Who passed? Who purchased? How did they feel in the process? PopCom’s uniquely intelligent software suite is designed to leave no stone unturned, when it comes to uncovering actionable data, from real consumers.

At PopCom, our mission is to help you know everything about your automated retail reality. So you can put that data to work for your business, modeling better solutions that generate greater consumer satisfaction and stronger ROI for your brand.

I’m thrilled to announce — as I did at ShopTalk — that PopCom is now accepting LOIs for the PopShop Kiosk.

If you want to learn how our revolutionary approach to automated retail can help you understand your customers on a whole new level, schedule a time to chat with someone from our team. At your convenience, we will take you through a demo and offer you the chance to join the growing list of companies that now have PopCom data at their disposal.

Long story short — we’re excited. And we’re excited to hear from you.

To see how we're at the forefront of the retail revolution, book a demo with our team today.

Book a Demo


Intelligent Vending Pt. 3: Is It Right For You?

Welcome to the final part of my three part series about Intelligent Vending, where I’ll be covering how intelligent vending is impacting the overall consumer retail industry and encourage you to explore if intelligent vending is right for you.

In my first two articles on intelligent vending, A Peek Into the Future and Technology and Analytics I talked about the history of vending machines and the new frontiers ahead for the automated retailing industry, including new technologies and analytics capabilities.

Before you rush to the conclusion that your product or service could never work in a vending machine, consider that cars are being vended – today in several cities across America!

Live crabs, fresh organically grown lettuce, caviar, and even gold bars can be found in machines across the world. Size, shape or shelf life have no meaning when it comes to vending. If you can merchandise it in a brick and mortar location or sell it online, you can vend it. And, more securely and with less overhead. You can put your product in front of your customers so they can access it when they need it the most.

Vending machines can be placed almost anywhere, you just have to open your mind and explore the possibilities.

So how does this affect consumer technology and related retail products and services?

Generally speaking, what today’s progressive retailers are investigating is what inventory items are the most popular and how can they automate the process of getting them in the hands of customers the fastest. When it comes to your business, what products do you sell that your regular customers don’t need help purchasing? Do you have products that customers would prefer not to have to interface with a sales person because they want to expedite the check-out process or don’t want to be upsold? If a customer has questions at the point of sale instead of asking a cashier, the vending machine can automate any message – text to video – to assist customers in making a buying decision.

Here are a few examples that are currently in the market today:

  • Amazon Prime delivery that offer customers the convenience to purchase items online and the order is at the door within 1-2 hours or pick up their order from a secure package vending machine.

  • The music store in Portland that vends guitar strings, drum sticks and other small, recurring revenue items that don’t require direct customer assistance.

  • The bicycle store in Brooklyn that vends common service parts, from a flat tire to new brake pads to a new seat; even energy drinks and bars for riders popping in who need a quick snack.

  • The Sprinkles cupcake ATM in Los Angeles that vends delicious cupcakes 24 hours a day.

I hope now you are starting to envision the benefits of intelligent vending and the endless possibilities for retail.

Vending machines to replace traditional retail environments is not a new idea. In 2015, Best Buy experimented with ‘Chloe’, a 350 square foot robotic assembly in their Chelsea, NYC store. Chloe is, admittedly, fun to watch. The yellow robotic arm can quickly search through the stores selection of CDs and BluRays, or headphones or chargers. And allow customers to shop without ever interacting with a human. Fast forward to 2017 and a new vending machine called ‘Vicki’ is using artificial intelligence and iris scanning to let customers shop without cash or credit using smart shelf technology like Amazon Go.

Intelligent vending is arriving at a pivotal time for retailers. Brick-and-mortar sales are struggling as online businesses thrive.

Macy’s, Sears, Target, Walmart and other chains are closing stores and reconsidering their strategies. That is creating opportunity for technology that can reduce labor and real estate costs and increase revenue.

E-commerce is continuing to grow rapidly with the need for immediate, direct to customer distribution.

Online is not always the best option for brands who want to get their products into the hands of customers as quickly as possible. Additionally, intelligent vending machines can enhance the online shopping experience by allowing customers to shop on the web and pick up from a vending machine. This concept is currently being tested by Walmart, who launched giant self-service kiosks in the parking lot of a supercenter in Warr Acres, Oklahoma, where customers can pick up online grocery orders without interacting with employees.

Despite the new innovations in vending, operators and brands still know very little about the customers who are shopping at the machines.

There is some data that can be collected from credit cards, but the new machines still do not have advanced analytics ability. PopCom has developed a software solution to solve this problem.

Using our software, vending operators can learn more about their customers including demographic profile, lead generation, social media sharing, emotion detection at the point of sale, customer engagement and sales conversions, as well as allow them to remotely manage inventory, point of sale data and advertising.

We make vending machines smarter than ever.

Our technology can be applied to new vending machines or retrofit existing machines. Now brands that are selling online can finally have a direct-to-customer presence with all of the data of Google Analytics and more.

We spoke to the CEO or Brand Manager of 50 consumer product companies regarding their interest in intelligent vending and discovered the following:

72%

meet specs for vending success

71%

never heard of intelligent vending

68%

never considered vending

87%

interested in learning more

The key takeaway from this research is that brands don’t know much about intelligent vending and how it can increase their bottom line – but they want to learn.

The intelligent vending market is set to create new and existing customer transactions and explode with IoT potential. The business case is further attractive as entirely new consumer product companies are going to enter this space to personalize consumer relationships and create micro-markets.

The ability to introduce new revenue streams through point of sale advertising is strong as marketers see the consumer-facing dashboard as a new ‘screen’ for marketing and consumer engagement.

The total-addressable market is dramatically expanding in this space and PopCom is at the forefront of it. Get in touch if you're ready to join us in our retail revolution.


Intelligent Vending Pt. 2: Technology & Analytics

Welcome to the second part of my three part series about intelligent vending, where I’ll be covering new technology and analytics. If you missed Part I, you can read it here. We’ll start with a quote.

“The ability to access information generated by connected devices enables a fundamental shift in how companies operate and generate revenues. Wireless machines will provide brands with management dashboards and visualization tools, displaying real-time sales and maintenance information across the entire network and from individual points of sale. Smart vending machines are a great example of the impact of IoT on new revenue streams and business models.”
– Efrat Kasznik, IP Strategy at Stanford GSB

Unchanged literally since the dawn of the industrial age, vending is just catching up to the world of technology and connectivity, and the business intelligence and new revenues that it will drive.

Many other benefits like the potential of consumer personalization at the POS, is expected to drive growth of the vending market from $7.3B in 2016 to ~$18B by 2020.

Antiquated in terms of security, operational inefficiencies and payment processing, the industry-wide technology applications is foreseen to be strong for both existing operators as well as in attracting new ones into the market. This includes brands who will use intelligent vending to reach new millennial and younger audiences – all of whom are digital natives.

While trending down in terms of global market revenue, vending growth is projected to be robust by virtually every research entity and industry prognosticator.

Brands like Coca-Cola and other beverage and snack companies are known purveyors of traditional vending. But new players like Best Buy, Honest Company, and elite skin-care company Kiehl’s are entering the market with the advent of intelligent vending potential. Many others are looking at leveraging this new breed of smart POS markets.

In my next article, I’ll try to project how the CT and CI channels might use new vending technologies and analytics to participate in this rapid growth curve.

But for now, let me just share some of the analytics-related technologies we’re developing and you can get a snapshot of how your own brand might lend itself to intelligent vending.

Using internet-enabled data collection software, my company’s platform turns ordinary vending machines into state-of-the-art data sponges, recording a wealth of crucial information about the consumer.

Here is how we are managing and marrying technology and analytics to provide vendors with unique opportunities in the intelligent vending industry:

  • Cloud-based and fully customizable software analytics dashboards to manage marketing hub information
  • IoT interconnectivity for data collection between networked devices
  • Real-time customer data tracking, allowing personalization and a new level of customer responsiveness with machine-learning algorithms
  • Real-time B2C dashboard management, including creating personalized media experiences and brand exposures
  • Social sharing capabilities post-purchase for enhanced authentic brand-customer experience and peer-to-peer interactions and brand extensions
  • Real-time remote inventory and maintenance monitoring to take the guesswork out of remote retail operation; optimizing machine visits and supply-chain decisions
  • Cashless payments for seamless purchase and processing from credit card or mobile wallet, plus digital receipts
  • Analyzing traffic patterns for device location optimization from ‘heat maps’ and calculating conversion rates

And this is just a small list of innovations the intelligent vending industry is working on.

Imagine yourself ten years ago and wondering if you would be agile enough to participate in the on-line buying growth curve. Well, that same curve is what is in store for intelligent vending. Will you be agile enough to participate?


Intelligent Vending Pt. 1: A Peek Into The Future

What industries haven’t been disrupted by technology, by the transformation of the digital age?

In the approximately 130 years since vending machines were invented to sell postcards in railroad stations, little has changed for this industry. But vending is changing in dramatic and profitable ways as information technology meets new personalized retail intelligence, consumer interface and remote operational and management capacity.

The move into technology-resourced vending is referred to as ‘intelligent or smart vending’ and my company is leveraging this move with technology tools in turnkey solutions for consumer brands, vending operators and advertisers.

Our technology is part media and digital advertiser, provider of real-time consumer engagement and transaction intelligence, remote device management and analytics and much more.

With newly defined business models, intelligent vending provides multiple revenue streams for both brands and the vending proprietor.

In the next few articles, I’ll be telling you about how the Consumer Technology industry – manufacturers, distributors, retailers and integrators – might benefit from intelligent vending, what technologies and analytics are being accessed and why, and from time-to-time I’ll weigh in on new advances and trends.

But first, let me tell you my own story about how I got involved in vending.

I was a consumer product service professional and brand ambassador. I traveled extensively. And I remember all the days of running through airports in high heels. One day, I came up with the idea of selling flats in airports and hit upon the idea of using a vending machine.

In 2011, after an exhausting search, I was not able to find a company in the United States that would build a custom machine for me to sell flats.

So, I started my own vending machine manufacturing company to bring my product to market.

I launched my first machines in high traffic volume locations including Atlanta airport, Club LIV (Miami), MGM Grand (Las Vegas), and Bayside Marketplace (Miami). After months of operating vending machines in these locations I realized that I had no idea who my customers were and no way to interact and engage with them during or after the point of sale.

I wanted to receive comprehensive sales reports about vending machines sales the way that I did from Shopify and Google Analytics for my e-commerce store.

I searched once again and was unable to find a company that provided a solution. In 2016, I decided to pivot the hardware company and ultimately rebranded to PopCom to change the focus from hardware to software to solve this problem that I was facing. PopCom was born.

Thanks for taking a few precious minutes to let me introduce myself. I hope to bring relevant and timely information to you from time-to-time. Smart vending is exploding, and you might be the next one to launch an innovative product via this medium.