API for Vending and Coffee Business: the What, the Why, the How

vending management system

“We have an API for that” is a phrase you’re likely to hear in conversations with Vendon. For us, this three-letter combination feels as natural as it gets but that’s not always the case for all participants of the discussion. So we have come here to tell you what an API is and how your business can benefit from it.

API stands for “application programming interface”, and it allows two or more computer programs to communicate with each other. You could say that an API is like a waiter at the restaurant – just like a waiter relays your order to the chef, and then brings you the food you have ordered, an API allows one computer program to request something from another program and get back the information it needs.

What is the use of APIs in the vending and coffee business? Let’s find out!

ERP integrations

Many operators nowadays have an ERP (enterprise resource planning) system which is used to handle billing, warehousing, and other parts of the business. However, to make the most of it, you need data collected from a telemetry unit, like sales data or the total number of active machines in your fleet. Of course, you can always input the data manually at the end of every day, week or month, but that is definitely not a sustainable and efficient approach. If data is pulled in automatically, that’s a different story.

This is where APIs come in – using a specific endpoint (an endpoint is basically a link you use to ask for specific information from Vendon) you can set up an automatic retrieval of data which will make your and your employees’ lives much easier.

Now, to build an integration between Vendon and your ERP, you will need a developer by your side to take care of it. However, if you are curious about what an API response (i.e., the data it returns) looks like, our API documentation includes a nifty “Try it” feature, which means you can easily play around with it – no coding experience required.

Analytics and internal tools

Another characteristic of a vending or coffee business is the need for custom data visualization tools. Even though analytics is part of Vendon’s product offering, larger operators will often require a connection to Power BI, QlikView, or another product of their choice. With a well-developed API from the IoT system provider (Vendon in this case), it’s easy to turn data into beautiful visualizations and actionable insights, which perfectly match the demands of executives, accountants, sales personnel, etc.

In addition, you can build other internal tools for your company; the beauty of the Vendon API is that it allows for bi-directional communication. It means that data can both be retrieved from Vendon but also pushed to the Cloud system. Thus, if you have already developed a vending management tool for internal use, you can simply connect to our APIs to start receiving and sending data to it.

End-user applications

Larger operators and companies frequently work on brand awareness in a certain market, and one of the tools to facilitate customer engagement is a branded payment or loyalty application, be it a web app or a native mobile application. For a mobile application to communicate with the vending or coffee machine and tell it whether to sell the product or not, an API integration is a must. Our API offers a wide range of options for any operator – it’s the idea that matters.

It is also indispensable for other engagement tools, for instance, a barcode discount solution that has an API underneath: the end user scans a barcode on a scanner connected to the vBox, the barcode number is transferred via API to the operator, and the operator’s system decides if there is a discount associated with this number, and passes the decision back to Vendon.

To sum up

APIs are everywhere; in our daily lives, we do not even realize that they are part and parcel of our routines. They have as big of an importance in the vending and coffee industry as anywhere else – with the right mindset, approach, and people, APIs can do wonders for your business, from business process automation to boosting revenue and everything in between.

To learn more about how Vendon can help advance your business, reach out to us at grow@vendon.net or your local Vendon Distributor.

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