The evolution of consumer behavior in the last century has taken a tremendous turn. Take a minute and imagine how long we have all come from where we have started; the world we are living in and the world which we left behind.
Back then, the way we shopped for products was vastly different from how we shop now. Most of us still relied on brick-and-mortar stores, there were no price comparison services, and we had to rely on large corporations for discounts. We went from a linear, retail-focused model to today’s iterative, digital-centric model of customer behavior.
The purchasing behavior of a consumer is determined by macro-economic factors and the state of technological advancement. For India, the liberalization of economic policies largely influenced purchasing habits across generations. Financial independence at a young age, the advent of the internet, and some aspects of people's media exposure rapidly changed their tastes and preferences. Today's Indian consumer is well-informed about the product, price, quality, and options available to him and they consider all of them while making a purchase. Moreover, they are willing to pay more for convenience and ambiance.
When the transformation was at its peak, deadly Coronavirus hit us hard and has brought a staggering shift into this world in record time. Human life has been impacted in unprecedented ways, resulting in a rapid shift in consumer behavior and dynamics. Businesses that appeared to be unstoppable crumbled to the ground. So, whether it’s a shift in multi-brand retail stores to e-commerce, a shift from eating out to cooking at home or delivering from safe outlets, Netflix instead of going to the movies, or home sports instead of traditional sports, the world has changed forever.
To keep up with this rapidly changing consumer behavior, businesses have to respond, reset and renew themselves to meet the world’s new demands and to be positioned even stronger for the future. It is crucial for businesses to see this whole transformation as an opportunity to grow rather than a threat. With digitalization growing at an exponential rate in India, the concept of unmanned retail is also gaining traction where the modern retail landscape is moving into automated retailing allowing each customer to receive a personalized experience with minimal human interaction. Smart vending machines are an essential component of unmanned automated retailing and are currently thriving in India, becoming an attractive or profitable investment option for entrepreneurs and reshaping the retail and F&B sector.
Smart vending machines may play an important role in this transformation by offering a new way to deliver products to customers that combines a physical presence with online-level convenience.
According to 6Wresearch, the India Vending Machine Market size is expected to witness robust growth during year 2020-26 on account of the growing Indian retail industry and rapid rise in urbanization. The government first implemented vending machines in the transportation and hospitality sectors, with the goal of allowing consumers to obtain essential products even when stores were closed. Vending machines are currently primarily used in India's retail sector, with the vast majority of vending machines installed at airports, educational institutions, railway stations, offices, hospitals, petrol stations, malls, supermarkets, and hypermarkets.
In India, the vending machine market is divided into several product categories, such as beverages, snacks, chocolates, and others. Because of the hectic lifestyles of modern consumers, the snacks and beverages category dominates the overall vending machine market sale in India. The initial trend suggests people are comfortable buying fresh food from the machines.
In a short span of time, vending machines have become incredibly advanced and offer 100 percent contactless purchase experience deploying technologies like IoT, computer vision, NFC, and advanced sensors. New-age vending machines have enabled stores to shift from a traditional retail model to a self-operating product showroom. Stores have evolved to become locations that offer customers an experience rather than being simply a location for the physical handling and exchange of goods. They are successfully moving the retail space closer to consumers. Fundamentally, vending machines have always been motivated by the desire to move products from a store into an environment where the consumer lives, works and plays.
Consumers in today’s time have come to expect a retail experience that is tailored to their individual preferences and allows them to complete their shopping in a timely manner, all thanks to the increased deployment and advancement of technology. They anticipate solutions that avoid the hassle of a traditional sales process and expect as little human interaction as possible. To put it another way, they want automated retailing for a seamless shopping experience. Consumers are tapping on their phones instead of dragging around shopping carts, and instead of a brick-and-mortar, products are being sold in a box the size of a refrigerator i.e., the smart vending machines which are bringing the smart revolution in the retail sector.