In response to requests from Plumbing Manufacturers Intl. (PMI) and its members, as well as from other supporters of the U.S....
Cash card technology designed to benefit
water vendors and their customers alike
Water vendors today have a lot on their hands. From constant regulation issues, to sanitation, to taste and water quality in general. While the water industry continues to work to resolve these issues, it is important to keep abreast new technology available on the market that can offer efficient, cost-effective solutions to water vendors and their customers.
Designed specifically for vending machine applications, the SmartVend System, available
from MoBetta Water, Inc., Westlock, AB, Canada, is easy to install and features a SmartCard; SmartCard reader, to be installed on the vending machines; as well as an in-store programming system, a SmartKit Console.
“The SmartCard is like a debit card, for lack of a better term, with a computer chip in it,” explained Stan Brooks, president of MoBetta Water. “The card is capable of being programmed with a specific amount of money, which then can be used at the vending machine or inside the store at the console.”
The customer can use the card the same way as cash at the vending machine to buy water and the amount of the purchase gets automatically deducted from the card.
According to Brooks, the idea behind the system is to be utilized for “customer loyalty” card or a “volume discount” card. “Let’s say for example that a store is selling its water at $2 for 5 gallons and wants to offer a volume discount, you can program-in a certain amount of dollar-value into the card and then actually sell it at a discounted rate to your value customers,” Brooks explained. “By buying a large amount of water upfront, the customer receives a discount.”
As a result, the system helps build customer loyalty as well as increases store cash flow. In addition, the card offers customers the convenience of not having to carry cash around, or worry about change when using the water vending machines.
Another benefit is the complete elimination of punch cards or other archaic record keeping systems for customer loyalty programs.
“Many water stores have customer loyalty cards but they are on a punch-card basis.” Brooks said. “These stores keep a rolodex on their counter and the customer has to walk in and give his name. The person behind the counter has to sort through the rolodex, find that customer’s card and punch it; however, the customer is not able to use the punch card outside for vending machine purchases.”
The introduction of the SmartVend System allows the store to eliminate the rolodex method of keeping track of their loyalty program, become better organized and it can be used both inside the store and outside at the vending machine.
“The system is modern, and much more full-proof. There is less chance of errors being made by duplicating somebody else’s card,” Brooks added.
The SmartVend System offers other benefits to both vendors and their customers. The cards are very durable, do not get stuck in the machines and can be used over and over again. They can be programmed a number of times and the card itself counts how many times it has been used.
“The store owner can actually program, let’s say that the 125th use of that card is free,” Brooks said. “It’s called ‘jackpoting’—it is kind of a surprise that you can program in for your customer.” The customer can also check the balance on his card at any time by inserting it into the vending machine.
According to Brooks, the SmartVend System is a lot more cost-effective than adapting regular credit cards. He said that people had asked him about adapting regular credit cards for water machine use. “The problem is that water sales are small, they have a lower price value so it is not feasible to go that route for a water machine because you’ll have to maintain a filling line and you’ll have transaction charges,” Brooks explained. “A transaction charge can eat up to 50% of what you charge for a gallon of water. With the SmartCard there are really no transaction charges because it is all done in-house.”
Technology continues to take over and simplify day-to-day tasks. Today many people don’t like to carry cash. The SmartVend System is just another way to offer excellent customer service. It provides a secure way to do business by eliminating money in outdoor vending machines, which are often target to theft and lead to revenue loss.