Staying on the cutting-edge of technology while paying close attention to customers’ needs and desires is key to success in micro markets. One component of the micro market that is especially customer-centric is the payment system that allows for checkout.
Tablet and mobile checkout solutions are becoming a popular choice as operators expand micro markets to smaller locations, where they may not need a stand kiosk. Instead, the location may benefit from having a smaller, more portable checkout device.
Yoke Payments and 365 Retail Markets are among the companies that offer the latest of these payment options.
Latest checkout options
Yoke Payments’ tablet kiosk, a completely cashless point-of-sale terminal that uses a 6th generation iPad, is one option at operators’ disposal. The company showcased the latest model of this technology, which launched in January 2019, at the NAMA Show, which was held in April 2019 in Las Vegas.
Ben Thomas, Co-Founder and Vice President of Dreams for Yoke, said the technology enables operators to have real-time communication with back-end operations.
The flexibility of tablet kiosks such as Yoke’s allows for the technology to easily be placed in a variety of locations within the micro market, such as on a wall, table or on a freestanding iPad stand. Moreover, customers who have established accounts can manage them through Yoke’s smartphone app, which includes the ability to scan a product’s barcode to make a purchase instead of going to the kiosk. That way, a large lunch rush at the micro market can flow quickly. Yoke founders also designed it to be affordable, allowing it to be a fiscally wise option for smaller account locations that may not see as much income.
“We are one of the most affordable solutions out there, and with lower pricing you can buy more equipment, and you can scale faster,” Co-Founder Michael Johnson said. “Micro markets were originally designed for 500- to 1,000-person locations. Five years ago, there were a ton of those, but at this point, most of those locations have been approached. Where we see growth is from the endless sea of 200-person and less offices that still don’t know what a micro market is because nobody’s pitched them on it yet.”
365 Retail Markets offers operators around the world with many best-in-class convenience technologies that are a part of the 365 Connected Campus portfolio of products. Two products that took center stage this year were the 365 PicoMarket and the 365Pay app.
365 Retail Markets will be making its 365 PicoMarket, a device that allows ID- or credit card-secured entry to a cooler, commercially available in late 2019. The company previewed this solution for public areas with limited security at the 2019 NAMA Show. Customers can select an item from the cooler, scan it on the device and then simply select the pay button.
“It makes the footprint that the operator needs from the client a lot smaller, so there’s a lot of excitement around being able to put a cooler with a PicoMarket right on the front of the glass,” Ryan McWhirter, 365’s Director of Product, said. “What probably makes it the most unique from standard vending bezels is that it has a webcam in front of it. We haven’t lost any loss-prevention tools as a result of making the device so small.”
The PicoMarket can automatically integrate with the recently enhanced 365Pay app, which enables consumers to manage their accounts, loyalty points and promotional offers.
As smaller-scale, less costly options become more prevalent, unattended retail operators have expanded their development of micro markets into smaller accounts. Lincoln County Vending, which uses 365 Retail Markets technology, is one such operator.
Dan Holt, who owns Lincoln County Vending with his wife, Pattie, said he believes stand kiosks will stay around for a while to allow customers to add value to their accounts with cash.
“I believe that in a lot of accounts that’s still going to be something we would utilize, but being able to take an app that enables someone to pay with their phone without ever having to go over the kiosk is something that I believe will grow in value and usage over the years to come,” Holt said. “So, I feel like the technology is going to continue to grow and benefit us as operators.”
Holt compared the various checkout solutions with the differences between vending machines, micro markets and other automatic retail options; tablets, mobile and stand kiosk payment options can all provide convenience to customers.
“We as operators need to be able to utilize any option we have available to us to provide that convenience for our customers,” Holt said.