Telemetry is a valuable tool for understanding how your vending machines are performing. It's like having an army of small robots giving you feedback on every detail of your operations. Telemetry allows you to track crucial metrics for your vending machines and improve efficiency.
There are many different telemetry systems on the market, each with its own perks. Not all vending machines need the same features, and not all telemetry systems are compatible with all types of vending machines. Depending on your needs, you might want a telemetry system that focuses on certain metrics, or one that offers a more general overview.
In this article, we'll look at the key features that make for a successful telemetry system. You will learn about the benefits of telemetry and how to find the system that best suits your vending machine business.
16 signs of ideal telemetry for vending
When on the hunt for a telemetry system for your vending machines, there are lots of factors to consider. The size of your business, your budget, and the types of vending machines you operate will all play a role in your decision.
There are some vending machines that can get by without telemetry. Think about it — if you have a single vending machine in your office lobby, do you really need to track its every move? For the most part, no.
But if you have a fleet of vending machines or are planning to expand your business, telemetry is an essential tool. It can help you keep track of inventory, optimize routes, and troubleshoot problems.
Here are the 16 most important features to look after when looking for a telemetry system for your business.
A good telemetry system must work in real time. It is the most important feature you should look for when shopping around. This means that you can get information about your vending machines as it happens, rather than waiting for a report at the end of the day.
This is valuable for understanding what's happening with your machines at any given moment. If there's a sudden spike in sales, you'll know right away and can take action to restock your machine.
Real-time reporting is also necessary to maintain the machine working at peak efficiency. You can get a notification that a product or ingredient is running low and take steps to restock it before the machine runs out.
SmVend Telemetry system monitors your vending machines in real time. As soon as something happens with your vending machine, such as a product running low, it sends you a notification.
Reliable data stream
A good telemetry system must have a reliable data stream. This is the second most important feature to look for when shopping around. After all, what good is a telemetry system if it doesn't give you accurate information?
A reliable data stream means that the system will work perfectly under the right conditions. The service has to be up and running at all times, and the data has to be transmitted without any errors.
There are 3 parts that must be running perfectly at all times in a vending machine to guarantee a reliable data stream:
- The components themselves: the controller, the vending machine, etc.
- Power and connectivity: Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G, etc.
- The software: both the machine's firmware and the telemetry's software
A good telemetry system will have redundancies in place to make sure that the data stream is always reliable.
Compatibility with 3rd party systems
The importance of a unified data format cannot be understated. A good telemetry system must be able to send data to 3rd party systems in a format that they can understand.
For example, if you want to send your vending machine data to a CRM system, the telemetry system must be able to send the data in a format that the CRM system can understand. The same goes for any other 3rd party system, such ERP.
The point of adding telemetry is to make your business run smoother. Otherwise, it ends up becoming a bottleneck.
For example, SmVend has an open API designed to work with any 3rd party system. We made it a point to make our software integrate perfectly with most popular business systems.
Clear and intuitive user interface
Data is boring, but data visualization can be interesting. A good telemetry system must have a clear user interface that makes it easy to understand the data.
A dashboard is the most popular way to visualize data. It's a single page that gives you an overview of all the important information at a glance. A good dashboard comes with different chart types and filters that let you drill down into the data and see everything at a glance.
Also, the user interface needs to load quickly. In a business like that of vending machines, you don't have time to wait for a slow website to load.
Functionality-wise, beyond a pleasant and intuitive user interface, you should look for a system that gives you the ability to:
- Manage an unlimited number of vending machines
- Monitor all your machines in real time
- Get low stock alerts
- Add and remove products remotely
- Change prices remotely
- Generate comprehensive reports
All of these combined with a clean user interface will make running your business much simpler.
Possibility to set roles and privileges
Another important feature of a good telemetry system is the ability to set roles and privileges. This means that you can give certain users access to certain features. For example, you might want to give your accountant the ability to see how the machines are performing money-wise, but not receive notifications when something has gone awry. Or, conversely, you might also want to give your technicians the ability to add or remove products, but not the ability to change prices.
This way, you can make sure that only the people who need access to certain features have access to them. This prevents accidents and misuse of the system.
The granularity with which you can set roles and privileges varies from system to system. SmVend, for example, gives you the ability to set privileges at the machine level, meaning that you can give certain users access to only certain machines or even certain reports of certain machines. This is especially useful when you're managing a huge fleet of machines.
In-depth data reporting of sales, inventory and machine status
A good telemetry system will not only give you an overview of your machines' performance, but also allow you to drill down into the data and see everything in detail. You should be able to see clearly every sale as it happens, from start to finish. This is particularly useful to avoid theft and track down errors.
Additionally, a good system will give you an overview of your inventory, so you can see which products are running low and need to be restocked. This is vital in a business like that of vending machines, where products need to be constantly replenished.
Every single operation performed by the machine should also appear in the reports. This way, you can see what is going wrong and send a technician to fix the issue as soon as possible.
Remote control of your machine's functions
A good telemetry system will also give you the ability to remotely control your machines. This means that you can add or remove products, change prices, restock the machine, and even turn it off if necessary.
The main advantage to remote control is that you can manage your machines without having to be physically present.This is extremely useful when you have a large number of machines spread out over a wide area. It also comes in handy if you need to quickly fix an issue or change a price.
This is vital in a business like that of vending machines, where time is of the essence. Being able to remotely control your machines means that you can fix problems as soon as they arise, without having to wait for a technician to show up and check your machine.
Make sure to check that the system you want to implement is compatible with your vending machines.
For example, SmVend Telemetry system lets you change prices only if your vending machine operates on an MDB (Multi Drop Bus) system and has only cashless payments, without coin and bill acceptor. Whereas if your vending machine runs an EVA-DTS (Enhanced Vending Accounting and Data Transfer Standard), you can receive in-depth errors reports remotely without any problem.
Multi-channel report distribution
A good telemetry system will allow you to distribute reports through multiple channels. Let's say you're used to receive Telegram notifications, but the SIM inside the telemetry controller has run out of credit, or the Telegram app is down.
With a good system, you should be able to receive reports via other channels if necessary. And if the controller is completely unable to send a report immediately, it should save it and try to send it again later.
That's exactly what SmVend Controller does. It saves the last 512 transactions in detail to send in a report as soon as connection is restored. But what if your vending machine had more than 512 sales? We still save sales data from sale #513 onwards, but with less precision. That means that, instead of seeing the date and time of the transaction plus what was sold in detail, you will only see a common counter for each item. So, for example, your sale 513 will simply report “10 Lattes sold”.
Set up notifications alerts in your preferred app
The channels through which you can set up notifications are plenty. This feature is important because you want the telemetry system to integrate perfectly with your workflow. For example, you might use WhatsApp a lot, and therefore want all reports to come in as WhatsApp messages.
Or you might want to receive an email report every day with all the sales data from your vending machines. Or you might even want to see a real-time graph of your machine's sales on your computer.
Whatever it is that you want, make sure that the system you choose allows you to set it up in the way that best suits your needs. For example, SmVend works with Telegram and e-mail.
A good telemetry system will also offer you the ability to forecast product sales and help you restock your vending machines accordingly. This is extremely useful, as it can save you a lot of time and money.
For example, imagine that you have a machine that always runs out of coffee by 11 AM. If you know this in advance, you can restock the machine before it actually runs out of coffee. This way, you can avoid having angry customers and losing sales.
The forecasting function is also useful when you're launching a new product. By analyzing past sales data, the system can predict how popular the new product will be and help you stock accordingly.
A more advanced forecast system could also notify you about events such as possible technical inconveniences about to pop up. For example, if the system notices that a door has been left open for an extended period of time, it could notify you so that you can send someone to check on the machine.
Mobile app to control everything
A good telemetry system will also offer you a mobile app to control everything remotely. With this app, you should be able to do everything that you can do with the web interface, plus some extra.
You don't need a dedicated phone app (for example, we don't have one at SmVend), but you do need a mobile-optimized dashboard that you can access from your phone's browser. This way, you can control your vending machines even when you're on the go.
Inventory usage tracking
You want your vending machine to always have enough ingredients to make the drinks that it's supposed to make. This means that you need to keep track of your inventory and make sure that you're restocking in time.
The way SmVend does this is by keeping a record of ingredients, and having you program the machine to subtract the ingredients used in each drink from the total amount available. In this way, you can always know how much of each ingredient you have left, and when you need to restock.
This is extremely important, as it means reducing the amount of downtime of your machine to zero, keeping your sales rolling.
High level of data security
When you're dealing with sales data, you need to be sure that it's safe. After all, this is sensitive information that could cause a huge loss of revenue if it were to fall into the wrong hands.
Data security is crucial, and is achieved through 2 main ways: technical and manual.
- Technical safety includes all the cybersecurity measures such as encryption, 2-factor authentication, and frequent reminders to change passwords.
- Manual safety includes things like only giving access to the data to people who actually need it, and having a clear policy about how the data can be used. Also, minimizing the impact of human error by automating procedures as much as possible.
At SmVend, we take data security very seriously. We use the highest levels of encryption, and our data is stored on safe servers. You won't have to worry about your data falling into the wrong hands.
Affordable pricing and SIM plans
Your budget is obviously an important factor to consider when choosing a telemetry system. You need to find a system that's affordable, without compromising on features or quality. If you want all the bling then prepare to splurge a little.
The good news is that telemetry systems have become more affordable in recent years, as the technology has become more widespread. There are now many options to choose from, and you can find a system that fits your budget.
As far as SIM plans go, you're in luck. Thanks to Europe's interconnected mobile network, we at SmVend include a SIM card in the cost of subscription (6 € per month).
24/7 Customer support
You might not think that customer support is a big deal, but it is. When you have a problem with your machine, you want to be able to get help fast. That's why you need to choose a telemetry system with 24/7 customer support. You can't afford to have a telemetry system down for even an hour, as it could cost you a lot of sales.
But timing isn't everything, you also need to receive support from competent people. That's why at SmVend we have a team of experienced engineers in our customer support team.
Just drop us an e-mail or a WhatsApp message, and we'll be more than happy to help you out.
Integration with POS systems and other cashless payments
You probably already have a POS system in place, and you don't want to have to replace it. The good news is that most telemetry systems these days can integrate with POS systems, so you can continue using the one you already have.
In addition, many telemetry systems now come with support for cashless payments such as contactless payments, Apple Pay, and Google Pay. This is extremely convenient for customers, as they can pay without having to carry cash.
Of particular interest is the possibility of allowing customers to pay with QR-codes. The main advantage for you is that QR-code payments don't need an expensive POS system. But of course, not everyone is familiar with QR-codes, so you'll need to provide clear instructions on how to use them.
Picking a solid telemetry system is essential to the success of your business. By using a telemetry system, you can remotely monitor and manage your machines, reducing downtime and increasing sales. In addition, a good telemetry system will have high levels of data security, affordable pricing, and 24/7 customer support. And finally, it should integrate with POS systems and other cashless payments.
As you can see, there are many factors to consider when choosing a telemetry system. But don't worry, we at SmVend can help you out. We have a wide range of options to choose from, and our team of experts can advise you on the best system for your needs.
Contact us today and we will show you how our telemetry system will transform your business.