Consumers’ interest in unattended commerce goes far beyond candy and soda vending machines. There are 48.7 million consumers in the U.S. who would like to buy a wide variety of products and services through unattended retail channels, such as vending machines, self-service kiosks and even fully automated stores. This works out to about one in every five U.S. consumers expressing interest in unattended channels to shop for clothes, electronics, cosmetics and health products, to cite a few examples.
However, the trouble is that only 14.1 million consumers — 6.9 percent of the population — actually bought anything through unattended channels during the past three months. This indicates not only a major gap between the demand for and supply of unattended retail options, but a huge potential for market growth.
So, what can merchants do to bring this underserved market the unattended shopping experiences it wants?
This is just the first of many questions PYMNTS sought to answer in The Future Of Unattended Retail Report: Vending As The New Contextual Commerce. The report surveyed 2,325 U.S. consumers about their experiences with unattended shopping to learn more about which products they want to buy through unattended channels, and what payment methods they want to use.
The research found that consumers are more likely to make unattended purchases when shopping is already top of mind. Consumers most commonly make unattended purchases at brick-and-mortar retail stores (15.6 percent of unattended customers buy here), car washes (13.6 percent), grocery stores (13.4 percent) and laundromats (9.6 percent).
Their interest in making unattended purchases also varies widely depending on the types of products they are buying. Eight out of 10 consumers interested in buying via unattended retail channels said they would like to buy health products, for example, while just over six in 10 would like to buy beauty products. This compares to about half who would like to buy books and magazines in the same way.
With so many variables at play in determining consumers’ unattended shopping preferences, it is crucial that merchants take context into consideration when designing and implementing their unattended consumer engagement strategies.
To read more on the complex ways in which consumers would like to use unattended retail solutions, download the report.