Vending machines are automated machines. Customers can purchase items such as snacks and beverages without the help of a third person such as a shopkeeper. Generally they either insert a payment card or paper money to make a purchase.

But here are some challenges that businesses face.

Many a time, the machine is unable to pay back the remaining balance in cash. Say an item is for USD 9 and you have $10. Instead of returning you $1, the machine returns an item costing USD 1. This is annoying for many people.

Or sometimes the vending machine accepts only specific paper notes. Or may accept only a specific currency. If the customer does not have them handy, they either need to borrow or drop the purchase.

Besides, many people do not know how to operate the vending machine. Many machines do have instructions written on it. But if the person is not literate in that language, then what does he/she do?

Lastly, the demand of social distancing and contactless exposure is increasing in the wake of COVID-19. Hence people will be apprehensive of collecting paper money since it cannot be sanitized.

It’s time to make the vending machine smarter and better. And by using QR Codes, you can resolve all the challenges.

You must have actually seen a QR Code on product packaging. Or scanned it to make a payment.

In this article, we will show you how both vending machines companies and brands using vending machines can use QR Codes. And make their processes better.

Keep reading.

A. QR Codes—a brief

QR Codes are advanced barcodes. They can easily be scanned via a smartphone or a dedicated app to access the linked content.

Branded QR Code

One of the major advantages of a QR Code is that they provide a contactless exposure. Just scan it to be directed to the target content. No contact with any foreign object required.

Plus, you can link unlimited information to the QR Code. This can be both text-based and multimedia. For example, you can link a PDF, video clip, and an audio file to the QR Code.

Another advantage of QR Codes is that they can resist damage upto 30%. So, even if they are subject to slight wear-and-tear, they can still be scannable.

Now, let’s see how QR Codes on vending machines can help.

B. Why QR Codes on vending machines

QR Codes on vending machines can be used for many diverse purposes. These are:

1. To facilitate quick payments

QR Code-based payments today are very common. And are increasingly becoming popular because they offer a contactless transaction. Customers just need to scan the QR Code, specify the amount, and then make a payment.

QR Code-based payments on vending machine

There is no issue of having the exact amount. And the problem of a different currency is also eliminated. The payment is totally digital and hence, no paper notes are required.

For example, vending machine firms in the United Kingdom  such as Platino are enabling QR Code-based mobile payments on vending machines. 

Similarly, Silkron is a globally renowned smart vending machine company. The company facilitated QR Code-based payments on vending machines in Indonesia.

China is yet another example. Here, Necta Vending machines provide an in-built feature of QR Code-based payments.

How to create?

The above use case is for vending machine companies. They can integrate their payment system with a QR Code generation system. Using professional tools such as Scanova API, you can generate QR Codes programmatically in real time.

2. To identify machine/section

One of the main aims of a company is to build customer loyalty. And help them make a hassle-free purchase.

With QR Codes, you can help customers make a smooth purchase. And refill the machine timely.

Here’s how:

You can simply encode a serial code/random code in the QR Code. There will be a unique QR Code for every vending machine.

Upon scanning this QR Code using a dedicated app, you can keep track of the quantity of each item kept in the vending machine. And refill the machine when required.

For example, Big Basket is an online grocery store in India. It’s vending machines have a QR Code on it. Customers need to download a dedicated app. With this, they can scan the QR Code placed on the machine. Once the scanner detects the QR Code, the customer is connected to the machine.

Now, the app displays them the quantity of each item in the vending machine. The customer can then click on an item and make a purchase using the same app.

How to create?

For this use case, you would need QR Codes in bulk. You can use a professional bulk QR Code generator such as QR Batch. This tool offers both the category of serial code and random code.

3. To increase app downloads

Many companies have their own app. To promote their app, they use print media creatives such as flyers and brochures. Here, they give their app link.

Similarly, many companies also put a sticker on their vending machine. This sticker has the app link.

But typing the link on a mobile browser and then installing the app is both time and effort consuming. Hence, not many people do it.

To simplify the task, you can link the app using a QR Code for app link And then paste this QR Code on the vending machine. Also, write a short help note such as ‘Scan to download app’.

QR Codes to increase app downloads

Upon scanning, the customers will be redirected to the app link. Since minimal effort and time is required, more-and-more people will scan the QR Code.

This way, your app downloads will increase.

For example, Coca-Cola is a very popular American beverage company. It’s freestyle vending machines have a QR Code on them. Upon scanning the QR Code, end users are redirected to the Coca-Cola FreeStyle app.

4. To provide a quick tutorial

Smart vending machines are a relatively new phenomenon. Hence, many people do not know how to operate it.

As mentioned, companies do write instructions on how to use it, but language barrier is always an issue. To resolve this, you can use a QR Code.

Here are two ways you can use a QR Code to guide people:

  • You can link the QR Code to a webpage. This webpage will have the instructions of how to use the vending machine. Since the instructions will be read online, end user can easily translate in her/his native language
  • You can link a video tutorial to the QR Code. In the video, you can show how exactly to operate the vending machine for the user’s quick understanding

You can then place the QR Code on the vending machine. And write a help note such as ‘Scan for assistance’.

This way, you can help customers make a smooth purchase.

5. For quick contact information

Generally, you mention your helpline number/email id on a sticker placed on the vending machine.

Now say a customer faces an issue making a purchase from the vending machine. To contact you she/he will have to manually type the number. And then make a call. Same goes with an e-mail ID.

To make the process quicker and error-free, you can use a QR Code. That is, you can link the QR Code to contact details. Upon scanning, the customers will be prompted to ‘save as contact’.

Digital business card

This way, the manual work will just be eliminated.

6. To take a quick survey

You conduct a survey for various purposes. This can be to know more about customers, their product preferences, or simply to collect data.

You either distribute paper forms or mention the survey links on your promotional material. Or simply mention the link on a sticker placed on the vending machine.

Paper forms require a lot of paper consumption and printing costs. While typing the link on the mobile browser to fill a survey form requires time and effort.

Here is a sustainable and effortless solution to conduct a survey. You can simply link the survey form to a QR Code. And place this QR Code on the vending machine. Also, write a CTA—’Scan to fill survey’.

Upon scanning, end users will be redirected to the survey form. And easily fill it.

7. To easily get customer feedback

Feedbacks are important for any company. They acquaint you with customers’ reviews and the areas of improvement.

Hence the more feedback you get, the more customer friendly you strive to become.

And the normal way to collect feedback is mentioning the feedback link on the vending machine. But only very few people care to manually type the link in their mobile browser. And then fill the feedback form/give rating.

To make it easy, you can simply link the feedback form to a QR Code. And paste it on the vending machine. Do not forget to write a help note ‘Scan to give feedback’.

End users just need to scan to fill the feedback form. Since the whole process becomes effortless, you will get more feedback.

How to create

From use cases 3-7, you can create QR Codes using an best QR Code generator tool such as Scanova. Here, you can sign up for a 14-day free trial. And then choose the category of QR Code according to the content you want to link.

That’s all you need to about QR Codes on vending machines. Be it a vending machine company or a brand using vending machines—QR Codes can help make the processes better.

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