By Darren Anderson, business development manager, self service and Anthony Wicks, channel partner manager at Ingenico Enterprise Retail

Payment systems have come on leaps and bounds in recent years, from cashless transactions to cashier-less checkouts – and the same goes for the unattended market. Now, new self-service checkout options and interactive machines have changed the game entirely, offering next level customer experience and seamless payments. And that’s just the start of it, unattended retail is anticipated to be a £10bindustry over the next five years as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) lead the change.

Consumers are becoming accustomed to newer, more convenient payment options. As such, providing competitive payment options are no longer a nice-to-have feature, but a necessity to remain competitive. To give you an idea of the speed of these developments, card-accepting vending machines have increased from 10,000 in 2007, to over 1.3 million devices today.

And it’s not just how consumers can purchase that is evolving, but what they can do too. Hungry diners can now order and customise their meals at McDonald’s via their interactive touchscreen menu and checkout service, while football fans have had their shopping experience amplified with the launch of Digital Locker. FC Barcelona was one of the earliest adopters of this pioneering technology, enabling their customers to select and personalise their merchandise, and then check out securely.

As vending has evolved and become an increasingly common method of payment, consumers’ attitudes are changing, creating demand for a more widespread adoption of unattended payment methods. In a cashless society without the need for retail assistants, customers will never be left unable to buy the item they want as a result of being 10p short, thereby reducing the rate of abandoned shopping carts. And so vending is an extremely popular option for both merchants who want reduce basket abandonment, and consumers who want ease and simplicity.

What’s more, the installation of contactless machines and grab and go options has seen huge benefits for these retailers. According to Visa, their clients are generating 20-25% sales revenue growth, and a 32% increase in purchase amount, thanks to the increase in cashless payment options.

As well as increasing revenue, cashless, contactless machines are operationally much more efficient as they eradicate the need for retail assistants to collect and count cash and offer other benefits such as real time reporting. This spares retail assistants the need to keep an eye on stock levels, instead feeding information directly into the merchant’s e-portal. Ultimately, the technology serves to ease logistical and management issues for retailers.

It’s clear that consumer demand for convenience is changing the face of payments as we know it. As a result, we are on the cusp of a frictionless payments ecosystem, and those retailers who fall behind are likely to lose out to those who embrace the future. To appeal to customers, merchants need to provide the options they want, whether that’s unattended retail, mobile payment options or digital loyalty cards.

Our job at Ingenico is to ensure that merchants can provide these options, giving customers access to the most convenient payment methods while maintaining security standards. Ingenico’s vending solution provides all this, with a new suite of unattended payment devices with integrated software and merchant acquiring – an end to end solution for vendors.

Ingenico’s payments platform (Axis) supports many of the largest retailers in the world. As such, resilience and capability are integral to our solution, offering security and assurance for all clients, whatever their size.

To find out more about the unattended retail sector and how Ingenico’s unique expert knowledge can benefit your business, get in touch today at www.ingenico.co.uk/omnichannel

(+)