M2M Makes Cash Obsolete

Many retailers seemingly find themselves at a crossroads as it relates to technology. We live in an era where customers no longer need to visit big name stores and instead can make most of their major purchases online. The Internet and M2M technology have lured customers toward the convenience and comfort of cashless Web shopping.

Ironically, technology may be both the problem and the solution. Kelly Robinson, who is responsible for driving new emerging technology partnerships for retailers at Sprint, www.sprint.com, says business can win back foot traffic by turning the intelligence in their equipment to their advantage, and minimizing human intervention.

Case in point: City Vending, www.cityvending.net. The company, based in Ft. Worth, Texas, was recently commended by USA Technologies, Inc., www.usatech.com, the company which supplied it with ePort and ePort Connect devices for cashless payments. In less than a year, City Vending installed 300 of the payment devices into its machines. Subsequently, it reported improved financial performance, as well as increased customer retention and satisfaction.

“We believe cashless has contributed to a 20-30% sales uplift since we first began to deploy cashless payment less than a year ago, with both credit and cash sales up,” says Tom Elich, chief financial officer for City Vending. “When you spread that over our cashless machines deployed to date, that equates to well over $100,000 in new annual revenue for City Vending.”

But it’s not just about cashless payment. Robinson says aggressively leveraging of social media, data analytics, and mobility can all work to the advantage of retailers. M2M technology can analyze customer needs based on aggregate data, and inform the retailer to make better business decisions.

Recently, three companies hoping to take advantage of M2M’s opportunities came together for a collaborative effort. A new agreement between Telefonica, www.telefonica.com, CaxiaBank, www.caixabank.com, and Santander, www.santander.com, calls for the development of new business opportunities based on mobile and communication technologies.

The companies intend to open an online community designed to ease the connection between merchants and consumers in terms of offers, discounts and promotions. They will also develop a digital wallet, in which consumers may keep their cards, and use for mobile payment. The wallet will also serve as an in-store ID.

This new collaboration falls in line with Robinson’s optimistic view of the market. She cites social media, mobile couponing, and touchscreen kiosks as examples of how a brand can engage customers. She says digital signage and media walls are another venue for interaction.

Recent years have seen retailers develop new technology-based strategies to stay competitive. But clearly, M2M and connected technology can allow a company to not only survive, but flourish.

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