Article written by Erik Bank for CardRates.com. Click here to see the original article.
In a Nutshell: 365 Retail Markets provides self-service technology that micro market operators can use to sell food and drinks through vending machines or checkout. It offers tailored solutions to food service operators and streamlined payments through universal Global Market Accounts. Its product line includes kiosks, vending machines, payment devices, access control devices, and mobile apps that support vending, dining, office coffee service, and micro market requirements. The company works with strategic partners to extend the functionality and versatility of its products around the world.
As America slowly goes back to work, the need to minimize human contact remains top of mind. One company positioned to benefit from the current circumstances is 365 Retail Markets, a provider of convenience technology solutions for workplace environments.
Their machines and apps reduce or eliminate the need for person-to-person transactions. Moreover, their self-service technologies for vending, micro markets, office coffee service, and dining provide tailored solutions that offer 24/7 convenience and streamlined payment processing.
And it all started in a garage, specifically CEO and Founder Joe Hessling’s garage back in 2008. He created the first Gen 1 micro market kiosk, a self-service checkout system that put a small convenience store (called a micro market) in offices.
VP of Product Ryan McWhirter recalls, “I’ve been with the company for about eight and a half years. When I started with 365, we had about 50 kiosks out in the wild. Now we’re up to well over 20,000, so to call it hockey stick growth would not be doing it justice.”
365 Retail Markets works with food service companies big and small, such as Canteen, Sodexo, and Aramark. Operators buy and install 365 devices in workplaces, cafeterias, and vending locations around the globe.
One of 365’s most important innovations was the global market account (GMA). It originally started off as a way to make purchases without cash but has evolved into a full payment processing system.
GMAs Bypass Credit Card Fees and Provide Turnkey Payment Layer
The original justification for the GMA was to allow consumers to use micro markets without cash or a credit card. In this way, GMAs mitigated credit card fees by allowing the consumer to fund their account $10 rather than buying $1 bottle of water across 10 different transactions. Consumers simply sign up for an account at the kiosk, online, or in the 365Pay app that can be used on any of the operator’s 365 machines.
“We’re not a one-product company anymore. We’ve grown to about 15 different products across micro markets, vending and dining, offering solutions for all client sizes within each of those sectors,” said McWhirter. “Our machines work with GMAs right out of the box without the need for operators to know anything or do anything or plan for anything because there is no way to plan for the growth of what this industry is seeing right now.”
The 365Pay app is the best way for consumers to manage and spend their GMAs. Essentially, the app functions as a prepaid card minus any fees. However, you don’t need the app to use your GMA. Instead, you can use a small barcoded key tag to pay for vended items, your email address, and even your fingerprint on certain models.
“The GMA was a paradigm shift for our clients because if you think about them coming from the all-cash world as vending operators, there were no accounts,” said McWhirter. “Every dollar they would receive was revenue. Having to manage their liabilities was actually kind of a burden to our clients. And so, when we came out with this GMA concept, we became the bank because we understood this new utility to make their lives easier could not add onerous complexity.”
At first, 365 didn’t know how their operators would react to such a concept. But it turns out, they were more than happy to relinquish control of the liability to 365 to manage because they didn’t have to pay somebody else to do it, manage chargebacks or worry about having a credit card processing account of their own.
“We’ve made it so that your GMA account not only works anywhere that the same operator puts a new device, but anywhere operators buy 365 equipment and put a device,” McWhirter explained.
GMAs don’t confine consumers to just one machine or one location. They work anywhere a 365 device is in operation which is particularly useful for clients with offices across the country, any kiosk they use at any office remembers who they are. 365 disburses sales receipts weekly to the machine operators, who can immediately recognize the cash as revenue.
365Pay App Extends GMA’s Power with “Whiz-Bang Tools”
Compared to the barcoded key tag, the 365Pay app is easier and performs many functions. You can use the app on any 365 device without having to learn anything new. The machines themselves all look and operate in a similar fashion, focused on fast transactions that get out of the consumer’s way.
“The app can be presented as this kind of ubiquitous payment layer in the workplace that’s completely different from a credit card. It gives the operator all sorts of whiz-bang tools that we’ve added to the app that has really never been done before in the workplace at this scale,” said McWhirter.
The app optimizes credit card fees as 365 Retail Markets acts as the payment processor. Using the app provides complete one-stop shopping for contactless payments, allowing the app to function as your new digital key tag to scan at a kiosk or a way to scan/pay using the app itself where operators make that feature available via a Bluetooth beacon. In effect, 365 is a global bank, providing accounts (the GMAs) and payments (365Pay).
“Operators don’t have to manage the liability, the escheatment, the chargebacks. All of these are responsibilities that 365 has assumed to remove the red tape and the overhead associated with conducting this business at scale,” said McWhirter. “Our operators can focus on what they’re good at, which is opening their locations, keeping them stocked and clients served well. And we focus on what we’re good at, being a software company that partners closely with the experts of the industry to automate as much of that process as possible.”
The heart of the 365 product line is its micro market kiosks that deliver snacks, fresh food, beverages, and meals. In addition, machines like 365Inside lets customers purchase from vending and coffee machines without the need for cash all from the 365Pay app. 365Beacon is a Bluetooth beacon extension to 365Pay that allows customers to use their smartphone camera to scan barcodes and pay in seconds. Operators only need one power outlet to make 365Beacon work.
Two new innovations are the Pico line of advanced vending/cooler controlled access technology and the ability to add custom marketing to the 365Pay app.
The 365Pico Platform Opens New Opportunities to Automate Sales
The new 365Pico Platform provides swipe or contactless vending using credit cards or 365Pay. PicoVend features technology that provides consumers with:
- Versatile connectivity and payment options including GMA
- Touchscreen interactive display with product nutritional information
- Promotions and advertising on-screen
- Easy enhancement of standard vending machines
PicoCooler allows customers to access coolers and select fresh foods and beverages.
“PicoCooler is a cashless device that can be mounted to a glass-front fridge. It’s a new kind of product for us, for a different kind of place providing auxiliary food offerings,” said McWhirter. “Consumers authenticate with a credit card or our 365Pay app ahead of time, thereby initiating the cooler to unlock because it’s locked by default. And then the consumer can open the cooler, grab whatever they want, scan the barcode, and then check out just like they would in a micro market today.”
These new devices make it easier than ever to streamline and extend micro market sales and payments to new clients or new locations within existing clients.
Joint Venture with Advana Allows Operators to Send Advertisements to 365Pay App
Advana is a provider of performance marketing and intelligence technology. It is currently used at more than 20,000 locations that have generated 1.2 billion transactions. Advana has joined forces with 365 to allow operators to send advertisements and promotions to the 365Pay app as well as kiosk screens.
“It’s a way for operators to send relevant offers and promotions to consumers on a one-to-one basis,” said McWhirter. “For example, suppose I’m a person who goes into a micro market and buys coffee and nothing else. Thanks to the 365Pay app, you can target that type of behavior with an offer, say, 75% off a pastry. The next day, maybe the consumer buys another pastry, paying full price for it. Not only are we allowing more relevant content to [be served], we’re giving people things that they want to see or big deals that give them extra value. Brands love the new channel Advana has opened and the insights they can glean working with the Advana team.”
Shrinkage has been a constant concern in the micro market. 365 addresses this concern by partnering with technology leaders such as March Networks and Panoptyc.
March Networks has a new 12-megapixel 360° camera that provides detailed, dewarped images with no moving parts. This gives operators constant surveillance with no blind spots, even in low-light conditions. There is an NSF-certified stainless steel option that is ideal for food-related areas. You can hook up a recorder to keep a record of all activity and discourage theft.
For those who want an even higher degree of automated security, 365 partners with Panoptyc, a company that offers detective software combining artificial intelligence with remote viewing cameras and expert video investigators.
This is a great solution for operators who suffer reduced margins due to theft from consumers and/or employees.
Market viewer cameras support remote viewing by eliminating problems with firewalls, bandwidth, and clunky video software. Theft Assistant provides software and suspicious incident reporting that streamlines detection and review of theft, vastly improving efficiency.
McWhirter is bullish on the future of 365.
“Growth has not even come close to slowing yet, in fact, it is continuing to accelerate. We do not see a plateau in sight in the U.S. and the other markets are just ramping up and learning what a micro market is like, especially in Europe, where there is more of a food service culture than a vending culture,” he explained. “Micro markets are more adjacent to vending than food service. So, naturally, here in the States everybody already had the infrastructure and expertise to support it. It’s been exciting to watch the micro market concept spread across the globe.”