The retail industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by risk mitigation, supply chain management and the growing importance of technologies such as smart checkout and robotic inventory management. In the last three years alone, there have been over 133,000 patents filed and granted in the retail industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Internet of Things in Retail: Interactive vending kiosks.

However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilising and reaching maturity.

Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have.

70+ innovations will shape the retail industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the retail industry using innovation intensity models built on over 128,000 patents, there are 70+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, contactless kiosks and delivery drones are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. RFID for inventory tracking, autonomous delivery vehicle navigation systems, and contactless card payments are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are M2M payment interfaces and e-commerce robotic process automation, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for Internet of Things in the retail industry

Interactive vending kiosks are a key innovation area in Internet of Things

Interactive vending kiosks are creatively designed vending machines that use the latest technologies to deliver automated retail solutions and products, without human supervision. AI and analytics can be used by these smart vending machines to analyse device data and provide individualised experiences.

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 30+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established retail companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of interactive vending kiosks.

Key players in interactive vending kiosks – a disruptive innovation in the retail industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.

Patent volumes related to interactive vending kiosks

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Cubic 43 Unlock company profile
Outerwall 36 Unlock company profile
West View Research 32 Unlock company profile
PayRange 27 Unlock company profile
Apple 20 Unlock company profile
Dover 20 Unlock company profile
Zume 18 Unlock company profile
Walmart 14 Unlock company profile
Swyft 13 Unlock company profile
NEC 13 Unlock company profile
LEER 12 Unlock company profile
Samsung Group 12 Unlock company profile
Japan Tobacco 12 Unlock company profile
Mondelez International 12 Unlock company profile
V-Sync 11 Unlock company profile
PepsiCo 10 Unlock company profile
IPS Group 10 Unlock company profile
Best Buy 10 Unlock company profile
Fiserv 9 Unlock company profile
Acuity Brands 9 Unlock company profile
Coca-Cola Enterprises Great Britain 8 Unlock company profile
Vengo 7 Unlock company profile
JPMorgan Chase 7 Unlock company profile
FoodPairing 7 Unlock company profile
Starbucks 6 Unlock company profile
VeriFone 6 Unlock company profile
Thermo Fisher Scientific 6 Unlock company profile 5 Unlock company profile
Indie 5 Unlock company profile
CAE 5 Unlock company profile
Sharp 5 Unlock company profile
IoTecha 5 Unlock company profile
Bretford Manufacturing 5 Unlock company profile
Imperial Brands 5 Unlock company profile
Alphabet 5 Unlock company profile
Parker Hannifin 5 Unlock company profile
Oki Electric Industry 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

The leading patent filers in the field of interactive vending kiosks include Cubic, Outerwall, West View Research, and PayRange. In one of its latest ventures, Cubic designed the E-ZPass system, which is a tolling system created for the New Hampshire Department of Transportation (NHDOT). The vending kiosks were made to ensure an efficient and smooth multimodal transportation experience for transit users.

Supergroup Creative Omnimedia, Acuity Brands, Bretford Manufacturing, and CAE are the top companies, in terms of application diversity.

In terms of geographic reach, Mondelez International, Oki Electric Industry, Parker Hannifin, and Japan Tobacco are the leading players.

Innovative vending machines are assisting retailers to handle quick, secure credit and debit transactions from any place using IoT-enabled automation and connectivity. Using built-in security, these vending kiosks lower the risks of product tampering and loss. The vending machines also utilise sensing technologies and keep an eye on environmental conditions to preserve the quality of perishable goods.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the retail industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Internet of Things (IoT) in Retail and Apparel.


GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.