LAS VEGAS -- 365 Retail Markets demonstrated the enhanced capabilities of its new SmartHub Gen II micromarket kiosk the National Automatic Merchandising Association's OneShow held here last week. The Smart Hub also received a gold Innovation Award from NAMA in the kiosk category.
The next-generation kiosk, at the center of the company's 365 SmartShop micromarket solution, features more than 20 technical enhancements. The most evident change is the smaller design, which mounts to a wall or countertop, compared with the original freestanding form factor. This allows operators to merchandise additional products underneath the kiosk. A base is also available for freestanding applications.
Operators can now customize both the kiosk and touchscreen skins with their own branded look and feel.
SmartHub Gen II's payment options have been expanded with a fingerprint reader. The self-checkout kiosks also accept mobile payments, credit and debit cards and a branded prepaid market card. The payment system can also be integrated with payroll deduction plans. SmartHub also can be configured to accept and dispense banknotes and coins. Additionally, it is capable of reading digital and QR codes for mobile couponing that can used by any smartphone.
The kiosk's touchscreen allows users to scan their items' barcodes or press the corresponding button on the screen. Voice commands and visual cues guide patrons through the checkout process.
SmartHub Gen II is equipped with a webcam that connects the customers "face to face" with onscreen live help when they need assistance at the point of sale. If the SmartHub kiosk cannot read a credit card, for instance, users can touch the "Live Help" tab on the display to instantly connect with a representative to resolve the issue.
Web-based 24-hour surveillance enables operators to access live feeds at any time, or view recorded footage when necessary. 365's SmartHQ system provides operators with direct access to security footage. It also provides sales and inventory reports and customizable reporting options that help operators work smarter. 365 also offers a smartphone and tablet-enabled app, allowing operators to access backend solutions on the go.
At the vending industry trade show in late April, 365 also demonstrated a large flatscreen video display mounted above the kiosk that uses digital facial recognition technology to determine the age and gender of the consumer. It also records how many times shoppers look at the screen, for how long, and at what particular ads.
"It's still in the early stages. We're using it for market research to understand the traffic and demographics and impressions to eventually help operators target what products to sell," 365 Retail Markets chief operating officer Matt Caston told VT. "It will evolve to targeting supplier-based ads to the consumer at the point of sale."
Caston said demand for micromarkets is building rapidly. "Operators are seeing revenue lifts of over 50% in the first 90 days, and larger operators are demonstrating 200% to 300% and even 400% sales lifts over the vending banks they replace and netting 20% to 23%," Caston said. "We began seeing a shift last fall from us calling operators to explain the concept and its benefits to operators flooding us with calls knowing they want to get into micromarkets." He projects that overall deployments of micromarkets, by both 365 and its competitors, will triple in 2012 over last year's numbers.
Caston added that many operators are marketing 365's SmartShops as a way for their clients to offer healthier food and beverage choices to their employees, and that angle is helping fuel the momentum. In many locations, decision-makers select several items that they categorize as healthy, from salads and sandwiches to fruits and nuts, and offer customers a percentage off, while subsidizing the operator for the difference.
"A message on the screen tells customers they are being rewarded for making a healthy choice," the 365 COO explained. "It's a way to actively reward the customer at the point of purchase for choosing healthier items. And the location can run the program for as long or short as they want. Operators are saying that a 30% discount on healthy items can lead to a 50% shift in distribution of the types of products being sold, which is a big plus with tangible benefits to the many locations with wellness policies."
To celebrate the launch of its SmartHub Gen II, 365 will be giving away a customized MicroMarket. Sponsored by 365, General Mills, Kraft Foods, AdvancePierre and MEI, the contest will run through the first week of May. Companies can enter at winamarket.com.
photo | CHECK IT OUT: 365 Retail Markets SmartHub Gen II takes center stage at NAMA OneShow where vice-president of marketing Brad Pitser (left) and chief operating officer Matt Caston team up to walk showgoers through self-checkout system's enhanced features.
photo | WITHIN ARM'S REACH: Coke-branded micromarket with grab-and-go reach-in coolers, demonstrated at 2012 OneShow, is the subject as, from left, Tom Barlow, Coca-Cola Enterprises (Atlanta), discusses its potential with Eduardo Cervantes-Alcazar, Gerardo Ituarte and Carlos Flores of Coca-Cola FEMSA, SAB de CV. Headquartered in Monterrey, Mexico, Coca-Cola FEMSA is the largest independent Coke bottler in the world, with 34 bottling plants in Mexico and Central and South America and an extensive c-store chain operation. Coke micromarket incorporates new 365 Retail Markets SmartHub Gen II wall-mounted scan-and-pay terminal in Coca-Cola styling.