CHICAGO — Making the decision to shift your store’s payment system from coin to cashless, or to a hybrid, can require a great deal of research and planning. There are implementation issues from the outset, and you need to be prepared to market your operation’s changes and educate your customers about the system’s benefits and how they can best use it.
American Coin-Op invites several manufacturers of payment systems to answer some questions that the average self-service laundry owner might have:
ACO: How are technological advances impacting the cashless store? How many different payment options are available?
Steve Marcionetti, product manager, Card Concepts:
Technology advancements are helping solution providers to develop more options for storeowners. The two most popular cashless options are loyalty-based debit-card systems or credit-card-on-machine systems.
Both solutions have their place and can provide owners with the right payment options to help their stores be successful. Often we see loyalty-based debit-card systems as the most popular choice with new stores; this option has the strongest ROI and really sets the store up for success.
The credit card on machine is often popular with existing locations that have many large machines for which their coin boxes fill quickly. These machines, along with a credit card reader, give the customer an option for payment and generally require less hardware to install. This option is perfect for owners who want to upgrade their payment options without fully committing to a loyalty system.
Ryan Carlson, director of marketing, WashCard Systems:
As far as impacting the cashless store, wireless technology is now to the point where it’s made it to the laundry industry. … Wireless is now like a third- or fourth-tier technology; it’s no longer cutting edge. It’s mainstream enough where the cost is down. You just can’t convert to an all-cashless system if it’s a wired solution, because you’ve got bulkheads, you’ve got suspended ceilings, you’ve got to put in cable troughs, it’s a nightmare.
Another is credit card acceptance. It’s mainstream enough, and it’s cost-effective enough. … The Internet is the third, huge technological advance that has hit our industry and the cash side of things. It allows us to do remote machine activations.
Amy Gitlin, president, ESD:
Advances in technology certainly do have an impact on store operation. Technology incorporated into the payment system provides the storeowner with a whole host of benefits.
These benefits range from customized marketing at the machine level to creating wash loyalty programs. In addition, because of advancement in technology, the owner is now able to get timely, detailed reporting of machine activity, inactivity and money collection. These types of reports are available via PC-based software as well as online tools. The use of technology is instrumental in making every facet of your store operate effectively and efficiently.
Technology is also opening up the opportunity to provide cashless payment system options. Today, the typical cashless store operates on the tried and true smart card or magnetic card platform. However, there is an increasing trend in today’s cashless store to accept credit/debit cards.
Michael Schantz, president, Setomatic Systems:
There have been many technological advances in laundry payments over the last few years, as was evident at this year’s Clean Show in Las Vegas. Hybrid systems that accept coin and credit cards along with prepaid cashless cards right on the washer and dryer have really taken hold in our industry.
RFID credit cards (tap cards) are becoming more popular and with Google’s announcement in May that it will be rolling out “Google Wallet” in the next few months, mobile payments will be a driving force in this industry. Our system is compatible with all these new payment methods.
In addition, wireless technology has taken away the burden of complicated and often unreliable RS485 wired networks.
ACO: What level of after-sale support should a laundry owner expect from the cashless system vendor they choose?
Hietpas: Like other types of store ownership maintenance and upkeep, the more self-sufficient a laundry owner is, they are generally happier and more profitable. Owners should plan to get familiar with their system. We do long-term service and maintenance training on our system at distributor local service schools. This way, owners can learn to get the most out of their system while they are learning to get the most out of their equipment.
Gitlin: When operating your cashless payment system, a laundry owner should expect that their distributor work with them in successfully implementing the system. This starts with training. Also, are the distributor and manufacturer of the payment system available for technical support and service not only during normal business hours but after hours, or on holidays as well?
Schantz: The storeowner needs to make sure he is dealing with a vendor who has vast experience in the laundry field. You need to make sure that when you call, you get somebody on the phone who can answer your calls. You shouldn’t find yourself going through endless voice prompts while seeking help.
Marcionetti: Vendors should understand that Laundromats are not a Monday through Friday, 9-to-5 business, and make technical support available when the storeowner needs it. (CCI has always provided technical support 24/7 365 days a year.) Most systems are sold through local distributors, so storeowners should choose wisely and make sure that the company they buy from is committed to providing localized support.
Carlson: There should be ongoing training. There had better be ongoing updates to maintain PCI compliance if they’re doing credit card acceptance of any kind. It is now a requirement of VISA and MasterCard that you’ve got a compliant system. … Unfortunately, most of the products in our market research in the laundry industry, updates aren’t a big thing that’s pushed out, and if they are, they’re paid updates.
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