The Business of Custom Vending Machines –– Reimagined

The vending machine industry is experiencing something of a modernized second wind.

Vending machines have long been one of the most convenient and efficient ways to exchange goods. There is a lot to be said about the relative ease of pressing a button or two, paying for your item, and receiving it instantaneously. This kind of convenience and efficiency is challenging, if not near impossible, to match, and so the role of vending machines is just as important as it has ever been.

If you take a look at the business behind your favorite healthy snacks, hotel toiletries, fresh sandwiches, salads, and more, you’ll find a proven business model. In fact, global vending machine revenue topped $23 billion in 2018, despite shifts in consumer vending machine inventory preferences.

Today, vending machines have become so much more than the traditional snack dispenser. Notably due to the idea that you can sell just about anything out of a vending machine.

A recent uptick in interest and investments in vending machines cater to a more customizable vending machine approach with improved payments technology that benefits from a relatively low-barrier to entry and attractive operating costs.


Vending machine industry gets a second wind

The vending machine industry is experiencing something of a modernized second wind, which is an impressive track considering the vending machine industry has always been particularly popular and practical from the onset.

These days, the next waves of vending machines are driven forward by technological advancement and digitalization. For example, vending machine businesses are still largely cash-based, but 59% of vending machines now accept cashless payments such as credit cards or mobile wallets.

Meanwhile, sophisticated new technologies expand innovation as distinct as touch-enabled high-definition screens and remote device management software technology. These days, vending machines can go way beyond simply dispensing snacks. Some might even say, a new era of vending machines is here.


Custom vending machines grow in popularity

In business, the experience and offering must continue to evolve. Today, custom vending machines have gained popularity. Manufacturers are taking vending machines to the next level by introducing innovations geared towards improving the customer experience – developing an even more convenient and efficient custom vending experience.

Credit: Neiman Marcus

Meanwhile, vending has collided with brand marketing at its best. Vending product selections are broadening from the standard snack to luxury options such as Moët & Chandon champagne, Sephora makeup, Chanel handbags, hotel toiletry kits, gift sets, and more. Depending on your audience and location, inventory options and technical customizations are endless.

Meanwhile, vending machines are no longer limited to lobbies, clubhouses, offices, and retail spaces. A growing number of brands showcase branded vending machines at trade shows, customer events, weddings, cupcake shops, hybrid-vending-cafes, and more.

Photo: Freeda Park, Unsplash
Photo: Freeda Park, YFS Magazine


A fresh take on the future with endless possibilities

Innovation drives the growth of the vending machine industry. And while they haven’t historically been our usual go-to dispensary, perhaps they could and should be. From cashless payments and AI-smartphone integration to touch-screen vending and self-monitored inventory, a revolving selection of curated products across categories gives consumers the convenience and experience they have come to expect.

Customized vending machines are not only more exciting and impressive but a fresh new take on the industry as a whole.


Craig Lebrau is the CMO of Media Insider, a Wyoming-based PR company that aims to disrupt the way companies communicate their brand in the digital era.


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