Posted by Amelia Powell | Oct 19, 2017
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Cashless Trends

USAT Talks “Cashless” with Cory Hewett of Gimme Technologies

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Today’s interview is with Cory Hewett, the CEO and founder of Gimme Technologies, the creator of an innovative vending technology solution that gives vending executives better sales, inventory and service data.  

Q: Tell us about Gimme? Where did the name come from?

Gimme is a technology company that builds award-winning iPad apps, cloud applications, server integrations, and patently unique wireless hardware for the businesses that run and refill unattended retail points of sale.  Our name reflects what our customers and their customers demand: speed and convenience.  Gimme is “fast-speak” for give it to me now and that’s what our total solution enables: quickly allowing the end customer to always get what they want from a vending machine, coffee machine, or micro-market by making sure each of those points of sale is visited on-time with the right products in the right quantities.

Our plug-and-play solution replaces legacy hardware and software, like the old guitar-jack data transfer “DEX” cord and Motorola PDA driver software, with 100% wireless solutions that run beautiful and human-factor optimized software on the newest tablets and smartphones.  This translates into faster employee training, fewer input error mistakes, more POS serviced in a day, and fewer stock-outs and SKU-outs.  Our hardware is plug-and-play into the POS hardware already in the field today.  It creates a secure wireless connection that our apps and cloud can connect to.  Those in turn integrate with the existing vending management systems “VMS” and warehouse management systems “WMS” an operator or bottler is already using.

The vending industry is the first step of many into the larger industry of unattended retail.  Gimme’s vision for the future is building the technology makes unattended retail a reality.  We see the most important part of that vision to continue building tools that are simple to use and fast to master.

Q:  What was the genesis for the idea?

Customer empathy is the origin behind Gimme. 10+ years of vending experience starting back in high school when I operated my own small route of 26 vending machines led me to meet with and learn from larger operators who struggled to successfully implement and use the limited technology tools available at the time.

First thing, I ran with the idea and convinced my very smart friend, and recent Georgia Tech graduate, Evan Jarecki to help develop the technology and co-found the business. We  interviewed over 200 vending operators and their drivers to learn exactly what their pains and needs were, before crafting Gimme into the award-winning technology it is today.

Q: How is your business doing?

Since launching in 2014, learning and building in 2015, and starting sales in 2016, we’ve gone from “Georgia Tech students” to a funded startup, with a patented solution, brand-name customers, Federal-court upheld IP, and substantial traction.  We have some of the nation’s largest independent vending operators and bottlers online and active with our solution today with a footprint that is now coast-to-coast.  We’ve twice been named Top 40 Most Innovative GA Tech Company, the 2017 “Pros to Know” and 2016 “Product of the Year” by Vending Market Watch, a 2017 Gold and Silver American Business Award winner, landed a major licensing deal with Cantaloupe Systems, and formed an alliance with public company USA Technologies.

Q: What is driving the unattended market from your perspective?

The vending industry as a whole faces increased pressure from larger newcomers crossing into the space, like Amazon now competing in many channels to provide ultra-fast, convenient food options, including: Whole Foods with two hour delivery, Amazon Lockers, Amazon Beer Delivery, as well as a host of curated snack delivery startups. Contrast that host of services, payment options, and digital ordering options, with the vending industry’s adoption of credit card enabled vending machines still fighting to break 15 percent.

Q: What are some key trends you are seeing in unattended retail?

Unattended retail is becoming a fixture of our current retail experience, from grocery stores to vending machines, and it’s attracting plenty of attention. Almost all of us have had some type of interaction with unstaffed or unattended retail systems. In fact, according to a study from Consumer Reports, they found that three-quarters of surveyed responders had tried self-checkout or self-service terminals in the past year. The study also found that consumers overwhelmingly enjoyed using these unattended systems — 75 percent of respondents who had tried a self-service terminal said they enjoyed using it because they felt it saved time. And the appetite for more unattended retail seems to be healthy, considering Consumer Reports found that the top complaint among consumers was that retail stores and other merchants did not have enough unattended lanes in their stores.

Q: What does Gimme do specifically to make the vending process easier for operators?

Gimme allows vending operators the ability to track what’s happening in the field, where the cash and inventory are—in real time, via the cloud—without downloading, synchronizing or hand-keying.

Operators can monitor driver movements, visit data and actions in real-time. They can also explore maps of all their machines, send orders, and change planograms with drag-and-drop ease. This technology allows operators to be in command at anytime from anywhere.

Q: What has the impact been for operators who have adopted cashless technologies? 

Operators make more money when they add cashless to their vending machines.  Operators who have made the wise investment in USAT ePort® cashless acceptance technology can start using Gimme today, without any additional purchase of plug-in wireless hardware.  This has made it easier and more cost effective than ever for operators to get rid of the old vending handheld hardware, switch to 100% wireless DEX for service visits, and gain all the benefits of Gimme’s system like seeing vend visits in real-time, large picture planograms of each vending machine, and fewer stock-outs.

Q: Have operators, using your system, seen an impact on their performance as a result of implementing cashless technologies?

The research is clear: add cashless and vending sales increase.  Now when you add the inherent ability to get DEX wirelessly via Gimme and a cashless reader, the value of the combined solution is overwhelming.  Operators and drivers no longer have to carry any device or install any new hardware to get DEX from their machines.  It’s all wireless between USAT and Gimme.

Q: Do you think that cashless technologies will have an impact on consumers?

Yes, absolutely.  Many of our customers have vending and unattended retail markets in high schools, colleges and professional buildings.  With Gimme helping operators to make sure those machines don’t go empty and USAT’s cashless payment technology opening up the payment options, you can guarantee sales will increase because of how easy it is for consumers to get their favorite snack with whatever payment method they choose.

Q: What is the most exciting thing happening in the unattended space right now?

Micro markets are booming.  More options for snacks, drinks, candies, and even fresh food make micro markets an attractive place for any working environment.  Although installation of a micro market isn’t simple like a vending machine, the end result is a high quality shopping experience during a break in the work day.

Q: What are your thoughts on mobile payments – are we there yet?

Many people no longer carry cash, but most still carry cards. I don’t think we are quite there yet with mobile payments. Until there becomes a more common area of spending that accepts payment methods like Apple Pay, I don’t think we will see mainstream adoption.  That said, I’m thankful to see USAT cashless on Atlanta airport vending machines when I travel, for convenience and have personally adopted the technology.  However, until restaurants, bars, and gas stations start consistently accepting those methods, mobile payment adoption has a ways to go.