Feb 16, 2001

Cell Phone-Activated Vending Machines

Marconi Online Systems, in Greensboro, N.C., announced an important new pilot project in Europe for "Dial-a-Coke." This pilot potentially could change the way many consumers buy drinks from vending machines. Approximately 6,000 machines will be specially upgraded to become "Dial-a-Coke" outlets using Marconi's Intelligent Vending technology–an innovative solution that allows consumers to pay for their beverages using a cellular phone.

Consumers no longer will need cash in their pockets to make a purchase. The system is designed to be quick and very easy to use, and will work alongside existing coin systems, giving customers either purchase method option.

The machines also will use Marconi's world leading Intelligent Vending solutions to deliver "Online Vending." The system allows vending machines to call in overnight, making sure that the very latest sales and operational reports arrive at the bottler's depot every morning. This innovative concept of making each machine an intelligent part of a proactive system already has delivered proven benefits to other drink bottlers around the world. By combining the Dial-a-Coke facility with online vending machines, the bottler will be able to easily track the success of the new scheme, reporting the number of cash and Dial-a-Coke transactions for each machine together with the date and time each product was sold.

"In addition, keeping out-of-stocks to a minimum and improving customer confidence that machines always are clean, filled and working are other benefits from the Intelligent Vending solution" said Peter Short, vice president of Marconi Online Systems. "And because operators are able to streamline delivery routes, fully account for cash and stock and reduce the impact of machine faults such as coin jams by prioritizing maintenance visits, significant operational savings also have been seen."