Released in February 2020, “The Future of Unattended Retail Report”, a study conducted by both PYMNTS.com and USA Technologies, Inc., provides an in-depth analysis of findings based on a survey of over 2,000 U.S.-based consumers.
The quest was to find out what were the shopping experiences of these customers using the unattended retail channels and their desire to continue utilizing them in the near future.
The keys to the success of vending machines and “unattended retail technologies” rely heavily on two principles. The first is providing the right product, at the right place, and at the right time. The second principle is to offer fast, hassle-free, and easy-to-use payment services.
Although unattended retail solutions such as kiosks, touch-screen vending machines, and the like are widespread, not all of them are offering what consumers want. The results of the research have shown that just one of 10 customers who are interested in purchasing via the unattended retail channels actually do. This leaves 90 percent that either have no access to this channel or they are dissatisfied with the products offered or the entire unattended shopping or payment experience.
This disconnect offers a wealth of opportunity for merchants to step in to provide these missing solutions, turning discontent consumers into raving customers.
The reasons consumers gave for turning to unattended retail channels such as “cashier-less stores”, self-serve kiosks, and vending machines is because the “solutions are faster (49.4 percent). The reason, “offer shorter lines” was a response given by 34.7 percent, and finally 33 percent said they “like to take their time while shopping without talking to employees”.
Another interesting finding was that, for those consumers who enjoyed their unattended shopping experience, they are willing to “spend and pay more” to repeat the experience. The research found that 29.3 customers would make more purchases. And even 24.6 percent would likely spend more for every purchase when doing their shopping at unattended retail locations than at brick-and-mortar stores.
For those consumers who had a poor experience with unattended retail, 23.8 percent of the respondents said they were dissatisfied because the unattended experience took too much time. This emphasizes the importance of giving customers back control of their time. Other dissatisfied customers (19.2 percent) reported that “unattended terminals” were difficult to use. Others (17.5 percent) revealed that they did not trust the machine to charge them correctly.
Evidently, merchants must take note that time is precious for consumers. If merchants want to draw customers and see completed purchases, they must focus on speed, accuracy, and efficiency.
Finally, it is without question that the potential for growth in the unattended retail market is massive. The research shows that the U.S. unattended retail market currently stands at 14.4 million consumers. However, as many as 48.6 million are interested in purchasing “non-traditional” items through these unattended retail channels. The shortfall is that many of these consumers simply do not have access to these channels. This is clearly a great opportunity for merchants in the unattended retail space to grow their customer base.
Unattended Retail, A New Frontier
While most retailers are spending considerable time and resources on their e-Commerce and brick-and-mortar stores, a new opportunity is passing them by. Unattended retail offers a new channel in which merchants can target new customers and increase sales.