Enhancing the vending machine customer experience with digital signage APIs

This image is of a vending machine that integrates with the Screenly digital signage APIs to provide a digital signage add on.

We recently had the pleasure of interviewing Brad Pommen from SMRT1 Technologies, an innovative company that is revolutionizing the vending machine customer experience. SMRT1 retrofits existing vending machines with an interactive touchscreen display. The customer can then select their preferred items from a stunning digital vending machine interface. SMRT1 provides the hardware, mounting setup, and a full software solution for vending machine management.

At its core, SMRT1 is a technology company, and it is second nature to SMRT1 to integrate new components into their digital vending machines. In the past, these add-ons have included thumbprint readers and motion-capture technology. Today, SMRT1 is integrating with Screenly Pro to extend digital signage to its fleet of digitally-enhanced vending machines experience.

SMRT1’s current plan with Screenly

SMRT1 plans to use Screenly-powered digital signage on screens that can be attached to the sides of each vending machine. The goal of this digital signage is to add additional, engaging media to each customer’s purchasing experience. For example, with Screenly powered digital signs, vendors can elect to show customers a motion-graphic, branded ad for an upsell product on nearby screens.

One of the main reasons that SMRT1 chose Screenly to provide its digital signage management solution is the accessibility of the Screenly digital signage player API. This functionality allows SMRT1 to quickly and dynamically update content for each screen from the vending machine configuration. At the moment, SMRT1 is integrating their software solution with Screenly’s digital signage open API. Ultimately, SMRT1 plans to use Screenly to introduce digital signs and digital signage content management to their vending machine operators as a simple, add-on component.

A perfect fit

Screenly and SMRT1 are in many ways the “perfect fit.” SMRT1 aims to provide a multi-component, digital vending machine solution. Ultimately, SMRT1 will offer a suite of plug-and-play custom integrations for its digital vending machines from which clients can chose. Screenly, on the other hand, is a robust digital signage platform that can easily integrate with custom applications via the Screenly digital signage API. Screenly can thereby easily serve as an extension of the core SMRT1 interactive touch screen.

SMRT1 has big plans for taking full advantage of the Screenly API, including two-way data flow between the vending machine and SMRT1 servers. In the future, SMRT1 vending machines will be able to display custom content based on data collected by the machine, such as the last item purchased, which items have been popular that day, and how many people are near the machine. Once SMRT1 is collecting this data, SMRT1 software can easily call context-specific content to be displayed on Screenly-powered digital signs.

Going forward with digital signs

SMRT1 is excited about the possibilities going forward with Screenly, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to see how an innovative company like SMRT1 will put our Raspberry Pi powered digital signage solutions to use. Going forward, SMRT1 hopes to use add-on digital signs to include more attention-grabbing advertisements. Additionally, SMRT1 hopes to use digital signs to expand vending machine inventory to more than just physical consumables. One idea from SMRT1 is that digital signage tools and electronic signage displays could show paid advertising by a local real-estate agent, and the customer could receive a physical information packet that is released from the vending machine. Another interesting option is that the customer could enter their contact details for the real-estate agent, and, in exchange for his or her contact details, the customer could receive an item of their choice that is paid for by the real-estate agent, such as a soft drink.

Conclusion

SMRT1 Technologies is pushing the frontier of the vending machine experience, and the company’s addition of digital signage to its suite of add-on functionality will greatly enhance the value SMRT1 can provide to its customers. As stated, SMRT1 sees itself as developing an integrated system where customers can pick and choose from a variety of customizations. Digital signs now hold a place in that line up, and we look forward to seeing SMRT1’s digital signage innovations. Next up on SMRT1’s calendar is the Canadian Automatic Merchandising Association trade show, which SMRT1 is sponsoring from October 26th to October 27th in The Blue Mountains, Ontario. If you’re in the region be sure to attend!

(Image source: SMRT1 Technologies)