How Japan can solve its vending machine problem
The Japanese love their vending machines. So much so, it’s a part of their culture. With more than 5 million vending machines in the country, Japan boasts the highest world ratio of machine to people – one for every 23 persons. And since the crime rate in the nation is one of the lowest in the world, the majority of these vending machines are strikingly found in outdoor spaces, where their vibrant lights and bright colors make them really come to life during nighttime.
However, for a nation known for some of the most well-known technological advances in the world, it is surprising how ‘low-tech’ these vending machines have remained till date. A Financial Times report details how only 100 vending machines in Japan are connected to the Internet, robbing the industry’s trade association of a “big data view of how choice, price and impulse interact.”
By observing the sales trends, vendors can optimize the product mix for each machine, keeping dynamic factors such as the season and new product promotions in mind. Vendors can also find out which machines are the busiest and ensure that the machines are always well-stocked. However, old-style vending machines do not offer any deep, actionable insights like these to businesses.
But now, things are about to change, thanks to the focus on Internet of Things (IoT) in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic revival efforts. A recent Nikkei survey has substantiated this by revealing IoT has found favor among the budget-setters in the top management as well. The FT report goes on to explain that one of Abe’s initiative involves “Tokyo subsidizing investment for start-ups and for researchers to develop the expensive semiconductors on which IoT and artificial intelligence depend.”
However, upgrading vending machines need not be such a costly affair. Limitless Mobility’s IoT-powered solution for vending machines packs in geofencing and telemetry sensors, and connects the machines to the network in a seamless manner. A software upgrade and cashless dispensing options transform the machines into Internet-connected devices, opening up a host of opportunities for vendor companies.
Since Limitless’ technology can be both retrofitted into existing machines and embedded from scratch into new machines, even if a vendor organization doesn’t plan to upgrade the hardware in the near future, they can still get an intelligent, digital makeover for their machines.
Want to learn how any vending machine can be connected to the network with minimal investment? Get in touch today!