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Why Vending Machines Should Be Allowed in Schools

Should vending machines be allowed in schools? This is a question that has faced endless argument over the years. We know that some people support the idea and others don’t. Parents, for example, are concerned that their kids will overindulge in unhealthy feeding habits. Most have the notion that vending machines dispense only high-fats and high-sugars. Well, this is not true if we consider a recent CBS News finding.

According to the finding, the US government through the Department of Agriculture issued a directive that required vending machines to dispense healthy smart snacks over junks. Since the directive was issued, we are seeing vending machines dispensing healthier alternatives like peanuts, popcorns, and fresh fruits. If we can recap the opening question, the answer is yes and here are 10 reasons why:

1. Encourage Healthy Dieting

As indicated earlier on, vending machines of today sell healthier options. In schools, they dispense healthy choices like fruit snacks, cereals, milk, and yogurt. Since most habits are taught in school, it becomes easier for the kids to learn how and why to eat healthy because of the availability of vending machines. Besides, schools with food-dispensing vending machines are obliged to follow the government’s directive on combating childhood obesity and other diet-related conditions.

2. An Option During Lunchtime

For schools where lunch is not offered and students are required to carry food, vending machines can help a lot. Since these machines dispense nutritious and healthy food choices, students will find it smart to carry money for buying food from vending machines instead of carrying packed lunch. What’s more, those who have special diet requirements don’t have to settle for what’s offered by the school during lunchtime. It’s just a matter of buying what they want as long as they can afford it.

3. Easy Access

Accessibility is an important factor for all consumers and not just school-going kids. The consumer wants to access supplies easily without having to walk, cycle, or drive a long distance. This is exactly what vending machines promise when they are readily available in schools. Students can access them conveniently during break time and buy whatever they want if it’s available. They can also buy food supplies to take on their way home.

4. The Staff Can Also Benefit

Vending machines are not just beneficial to students. Both the teaching and non-teaching staff can access them and buy from them. Staff members don’t have to be forced to carry packed lunch or go outside the compound to look for food. Knowing that the options are low-cost, they can even buy some to take home. Schools, therefore, need to make an effort to also cater to the needs of the staff just as much as those of the students. If for example, the staff prefers coffee and tea to soda, then the school management should consider it.

5. An Option for Budget Students and Staff

Vending machines are generally an attractive selling point because they are a budget-option. Consumers buy from them because they promise cheaper supplies. So, their availability in schools is positive news to students. They can buy foods and non-food supplies cheaply. Staff members on a budget can also benefit from vending machines. Since foods are low-cost, the staff can plan on their spending every day.

6. Keeps Students and Staff Around

From an academic standing, it’s not a good habit to see students loaming the streets looking for food. Not only does this waste time but it’s also unsafe for the kids. To ensure that they always stick around, it’s worthwhile to invest in a couple of food-dispensing vending machines. The machines just need to sell food supplies that the students prefer to buy. The staff also gets to stick around the school since they no longer have a reason to go out looking for food.

7. Fuels Classroom Concentration

Students like to eat – that’s a universal truth. So, it’s almost impossible for them to concentrate in class when they crave for food. They prefer to snack during breaks and this can be assured by the availability of food-dispensing vending machines. The fact that they are assured of accessing the vending machines during their break makes them relaxed and extra attentive in class. Normally, it’s the worry of not knowing where to get snacks that makes students less alert in class.

8. A Bridge for Nutritional Gaps

Though it’s every parent’s dream to see their kids eat healthy at all times, they don’t have control over what they eat in school. The kids may need essential vitamins and minerals that they can’t get from the breakfast they take at home or the lunch they serve in school. However, such nutrients can be readily available in an array of healthy foods dispensed by vending machines. The foods come rich in vitamins and proteins and are meant to make up for the nutritional gaps that the kids may be experiencing. You’ll want this for your child as a concerned parent.

9. Not Limited to Food

Vending machines may be popular with selling foods but they can also dispense nonfood choices. In schools, they can dish out supplies like pens, pencils, notepads, and tapes. In this case, students will not be forced to go out of class to look for these supplies as they are available in a vending machine. It’s also worth noting that the vending machine technology has improved so much. We now have vending machines that allow students to sign up for after-school events. Others allow the buying of unusual items like personal computers, bandages, and personal effect items.

10. Revenue for Schools

Lastly, schools normally have an extensive budget that they need to meet. For instance, they have to pay utility bills, add new books, and organize trips. These costs can be partly met by the revenue generated by vending machines. Since students and the staff are encouraged to buy from the machines, there’s always profit streaming in. Even though it may not be much, it can help significantly. Generally, a larger school population calls for more vending machines. In turn, more revenue is generated.

Closing Thought:

There’s no doubt that vending machines are a great investment in schools. Both the students and the staff can benefit from them. Schools administrations can earn profit from them and the government’s advisory on child healthy can also be met. It all boils down to proper supervision and usage.

How Much Do Vending Machines Make

Have you been searching for an investment opportunity that you can run on a part-time basis and one that does not need any special training? Then you should consider investing in a vending machine business. You don’t have to hire anyone to manage a vending machine as you can do it yourself or ask a member of your household to do it. This saves on labor costs.

Today in the United States, there are roughly 5 million operational vending units. Unsurprisingly, a 2018 report shows that food and beverage vending machines are leading the line. They occupy 56% of the market share. So, if you are looking to start on a business line that’s tested and proven, then you should try the food and beverage product line. You can dispense anything from snacks to soft drinks.

Maybe you are thinking that vending machines only sell sugar stuff like candies and chocolate bars. This is not entirely true as you decide on what foods to stock. So, you can sell healthy choices if you want to. Other benefits that come with a vending machine include scalability and cash-based transactions. You only need one vending machine to start with and it can generate the capital you need to set up another.

As for the payments, customers can’t buy on credit. The machines can only dispense when cash is slotted or when a payment card is swiped. Moreover, a vending machine is simple to maintain. All that is needed is regular restocking and maintenance. After all this, you must be asking, are they profitable? Let’s answer the question below.

Establishing the Profit Index

The National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA) estimates that roughly $20 billion is generated in the United States yearly by the 5 million active vending machines. On average, this means that each vending machine barely makes $5 a week. The survey shows that vending machines are not an instant jackpot and so you shouldn’t expect to make thousands of dollars from them.

Most vending machines entrepreneurs think that setting up several machines is critical in generating more revenue. This might be true but it’s necessary to establish your profit index first. Look at it this way:

Setting up a beverage dispensing machine allows you to sell 20 bottles per day on average. If your unit price is $1, this means you’ll be making $20 daily in sales. But suppose each bottle cost you $0.80 – you’ll only make $4 a day. This implies that you’ll be making $28 a week and $120 a month.

But remember, there are a few costs that are tantamount to deductions on your sales. For example, you’ll have to cater for electricity cost if your vending machine is an electronic type. You’ll also have to pay a vending machine professional to inspect and maintain your unit once. Furthermore, sourcing your supplies from afar means you’ll have to incur transportation costs if they don’t offer free shipping.

Steps to Making Money

Since a vending machine can be profitable, it all boils down to the decisions you make before and after setting up the business. To improve your chances of making money, here are key steps to follow:

  • Detailed research – When it comes to buying a vending machine, you can buy a new machine and build the business from scratch or buy an already operational vending machine. The latter means having access to immediate and consistent cash flow. If you decide to settle on the former, you’ll have to wait before cash can start flowing.
  • Identify a niche – You should identify a gap in the market that you can exploit. If it’s food that you want to sell, go for healthy options. You can also diversify to offer hot options. This decision should be arrived after studying your target audience.
  • Moving items – Buyers are always looking for snacks, hot drinks, and cold beverages. So, dispensing such options means more opportunities to make more sales. You can also dispense personal items like OTC drugs, toothpaste, and hygiene supplies. They also move easily.
  • Strategic location – You may be selling moving items but fail to generate as much money as you want if your vending machines are not strategically located. You need to set up the machines in heavy-traffic areas like shopping malls, bus terminals, airports, and main streets. You can also set up your business in a school, hospital, an office complex or within a company.
  • Extra investments – Though you may not be there all the time, you should hear the grievances and suggestions of your customers. This means investing in the right customer service. You can attach an SMS number or email address on the vending machines that they can use to talk to you.

You also need to invest in the right VMS (Vending Management System) if your vending machine is electronic. This allows you to manage your inventory and monitor your revenue seamlessly. Last but not least, you should invest enough time into the business. You need to be checking up on the machine as frequently as possible.

  • Bulk sourcing – When sourcing your products, you should learn to do it in bulk so as you can earn a valuable discount. This allows you to improve your profit index. You also save on transport cost.
  • Proper maintenance – No customer likes a poorly maintained or filthy-looking vending machine. It’s a turn-off. You need to clean your vending machine regularly and have it serviced by an expert occasionally. If any repairs are needed, you should learn to respond punctually.

Startup Costs

The first and most important startup cost is the cost of the machine. Generally, the price of buying vending machines depends on machine type, brand, size, and customization. On average, you’ll spend $2,000-$3,000 on a mechanical machine and $3,000 or more on an electronic type. Other notable startup costs include:

  • Stock – For your vending machine to be operational, you must stock it. At least, you need to budget for the opening stock. What you earn from it can be reinvested into the business.
  • Installation cost –If you are installing a vending machine within an existing business such as a shopping mall or a company complex, you may be required to pay rent. This is a major cost you need to budget for.

Closing Thought:

Without a doubt, vending machines can make you money. You just have to be realistic with your expectations and understand what the market needs. Selling the right items and targeting the right customers is critical in making money. So, it’s a decent business idea for someone looking to generate some cash on the side.

How Many Vending Machines in Japan

One thing is for sure when you visit Japan; there are vending machines in almost every street you walk. From dispensing simple supplies like basic groceries to weird options like underwear and puppies, there are so many options. There are even vending machines for prayer cards, gifts, and surgical masks. According to a survey by the Japan Vending Machines Association, more than 5 million vending units are spread nationally. This means that there’s a vending machine to serve every 23 individuals.

This is not all. The association argues that at least $60 billion is generated in sales annually by local vending machines. Leading the pack are vending dispensers for fast-moving items like sodas, water, hot foods, candies, and energy drinks. If you observe closely, you’ll notice that vending machines epitomize the Japanese culture. You’ll see print details of the Japanese lifestyle in the design of the vending machines.

Why So Many Vending Machines?

This is an obvious question when you first land in Japan, especially Tokyo. If you compare the streets of Tokyo with places like New York or Dubai, you’ll notice that there are as many vending machines in Tokyo as the tall buildings. This is understandable if you consider these factors:

  1. Scarce Labor

For a long time now, the Japanese birthrate has been on a decline with the aging population on a rise. There’s also the aspect of fewer immigrants moving to the country. This has made labor to be scarce. As a way to compensate for labor scarcity, Japanese investors are opting for vending machines. These machines require low human input and can run 24/7. According to a macroeconomics book, vending machines in Japan are slowly substituting sales clerks.

  1. Dense Population

Japan is almost the same size as the State of California. Her population, however, is astonishing. It’s estimated to be 127 million. This is quite impressive knowing that 75% of the country is mountainous. The rugged landscape has pushed most Japanese to the city where they are densely populated. This has opened up opportunities for vending machine investors since a dense population is almost a guaranteed market.

  1. Extreme Weather

The summer can get unnervingly hot in Japan while the winter can get icy cold. Such extreme temperatures require a quick fix. For example, you need a hot cup of tea or coffee when it’s freezing and a cold soda or water when it’s very hot. Such solutions are readily availed by the numerous vending machines that are found in Japan.

  1. Cheap Maintenance

Most vending machines in Japan are automated. This means that minimal labor is required to inspect and clean them. You don’t have to pay any salary to an employee as the machines are DIY. Additionally, they suffer very minimal breakdowns. Investors are generally happy with the idea of having to give just a few hours of their time and go back home to wait for the machines to make money.

  1. Safe Country

Based on a 2010 UN security report, Japan tops the list as the safest country in the world. The security report shows that very few robbery incidences are recorded in Japan. This has made it easy for vending machines investors to set up the units in different places without worrying that someone will vandalize or steal from them. Unlike the United States, most vending machines in Japan are stand-alone.

  1. Cash-based Economy

Investors like this aspect of vending machines since no one buys on credit. They are guaranteed a stream of cash as long as their vending units are working. The advantage to the consumer is that both coins and Japanese bills are accepted. So, you don’t need a debit card or credit card to buy from vending machines. This makes it easy for someone with as little as 10 yens to make a purchase.

  1. Commuter-friendly

Though Japan is known as a leading automaker, most locals prefer to walk to work, use a bike or catch the train. This is quite common in Tokyo. As a result, the streets are likely to be jammed with commuters. As expected, investors have identified the jammed streets as a selling point. So, they put vending machines along these streets to lure the commuters.

  1. Convenient Buying

If you get hungry or thirsty suddenly in Japan, there’s always a sense of relief as you are assured the next vending machine is a few meters away. The same goes for OTC drugs and personal hygiene items. Buying from this outlet is faster since there are no lines as it’s normally the case with retail stores. This is a great thing for a busy nation like Japan.

  1. Robotics Obsession

Japan is historically obsessed with automata. This is according to a 2007 publication by the Japan Times. Considering that vending machines are robotics, it doesn’t surprise that so many resources have been put into their assembly. They are constantly innovating vending machines that are meant to make to substitute human service in most retail businesses.

  1. Affordability

If you want to buy coffee from a vending machine in the streets, it’ll only cost you 130 yen. If it’s the juice that you want, a 500ml bottle will cost you 160 yen on average. At the airport, where it’s often expensive, you may spend roughly 200 yen on a drink. This is slightly above $2. These prices are way cheaper if compared to buying the same in the United States.

Tips for Buying from a Vending Machine

If you have never used a cash-based vending machine before and you find yourself in Japan, you should arm yourself with these tips:

  • Prepare your cash – As mentioned, you need coins or Japanese bills to make a purchase from vending machines in Japan.
  • Put cash into the vending machine – You need to identify the cash slot and put your money there. The lights of the machine will illuminate to indicate that the transaction is initiated.
  • Select the item you want to buy – Use buttons on the vending machine to pick your item. If you don’t know how to read Japanese characters, just buy a product you are familiar with or one that you can see clearly.
  • Collect your change – Don’t leave until you get the change. It’s your right.

Closing Thought:

Japan is undeniably the world’s leading vending machine nation. With so many vending units spread across the country, you can buy virtually anything found in a retail store or a restaurant. The vending machine technology is increasingly becoming advanced. So, we should expect more vending machine innovations in the future in Japan.

Vending Machines and Office Culture

Vending machines may be different things to different people in the workplace. For employers, it’s another way of injecting money into the business and a means to keep employees motivated and on-site. For employees, vending machines are a cost-effective and time-saving option when it comes to buying foods and other office supplies.

Visiting customers are also not left out. They see vending machines as another way of getting an array of foods and drinks on a budget. The truth is that vending machines have changed the office culture. Largely, the changes have been positive. But still, there are a few habits promoted by vending machines that are cause for concern.

Positive Office Culture

On a positive note, the emergence of office vending machines has seen some impressive lifestyle changes and habits being introduced into the office environment. Here are the most notable ones:

  1. Self-Service Norm

Every investor always looks for ways that they can reduce overhead costs. Vending machines, actually, provide them with this option. These machines are automated and thus employees serve themselves. Basically, there are no labor costs. All the owner has to do is restock the machine and wait to come to collect cash at the end of the day. For employees, they just need cash or credit cards to buy what they want. Self-service, basically, has become a norm.

  1. A Free Market

Vending machines can practically dispense anything. From fresh fruits and fruit blends to cereals and protein concentrates, a vending machine can dispense them all. For employees, this kind of freedom allows them to enjoy what they like in the workplace. For employers, this freedom allows them to sell food supplies that they are passionate about. The final decision, however, belongs to the staff.

  1. Staff Motivation

The presence of food vending machines in the office gives employees the impression that the employer values and appreciates them. Additionally, the freedom to buy whatever they want at a subsidized price motivates them. They become really happy at work. As you know, a happy employee will always give the best. In the long run, office productivity improves. Actually, we are seeing employers investing in vending machines solely for staff motivation.

  1. Office Networking

A lot of times, even workers in the same office can’t get time to talk about non-job matters. Nonetheless, vending machines are changing the communication landscape in the office. They provide employees with an opportunity to network during their free time. For those employees who are afraid of expressing themselves during work hours, they become aware of the freedom when they go to serve themselves at the vending machines.

  1. Corporate Wellness

These days, vending machines are not the junk hub they used to be years back. They are now stocked with healthy foods that employees appreciate. From coffee and water to cereals and fruits, employees can buy them from office vending machines. This has seen corporate wellness improve significantly in most offices. We are seeing employees now learning to consume healthy meals and locking out junks at the workplace.

  1. No Bargaining, No Credit

From an investor’s standing, this is really impressive. Employees don’t have to bargain for food prices since they are predetermined and fixed. Unless they have the money needed, they can’t buy from the dispensers. Additionally, employees can’t buy on credit. This has seen losses at the workplace related to food vending reduce significantly. No bargaining, no credit has become a formidable office culture.

  1. A 24/7 Market

An office vending machine can run as long as the office is opened. So, if there’s always someone in the office, then they are guaranteed access to the food dispensers. Simply, they can walk to the machine to buy whatever foods they want. This has seen the emergence of a consumer employee community that is not time-sensitive. Considering that vending machines run 24/7, employees can buy from the machines anytime they feel like.

  1. A Time-Saving Working Community

Employees are really funny when offered the opportunity to go out to look for food. A majority of them will waste valuable office hours during their breaks trying to find what to buy. However, having vending machines within reach means that they have to stay around. In the long run, office hours are saved. Employees use salvaged hours to engage in productive office duties.


Benefits of Office Vending Machines

Today, a vending machine is not just a luxury at the workplace but actually a necessity. So, if you don’t have one in your business, then you are missing a lot. For starters, these machines can dispense different foods and drinks and not just candies. This means that your workers can grab a cup of hot cocoa or some cereals conveniently. This is not all.

The technology has advanced so much that vending machines of today can accept card payments. Therefore, change challenges are eliminated as it used to be the case of coin-operated vending machines. These machines are automated to follow the instruction of the customers. They are able to dispense what the customer wants to buy.

Moreover, the machines are quite mobile. This means you can change their positioning from time to time depending on where the market is concentrated. Though they may face issues like fraud and vandalism, vending machines are known to bring about so many benefits at the workplace. Here are the top 10:

To the Staff

  1. Accessibility

Vending machines are usually stationed in peculiar places to be easily accessible by the staff. During office breaks, employees can walk to the machines to buy whatever they want. To them, the machines provide them with a close solution as they don’t have to go out to look for foods and drinks.

  1. Reliability

The problem with most restaurants and supermarkets is that they are not predictable. One day they are opened and the next day they are not. As for restaurants, you may not get your favorite dish if you go during lunchtime as sometimes customers exceed the orders prepared. Vending machines, conversely, are very reliable. You’ll always get your preferred food or drink as long as it’s normally there.

  1. Product Variety

These days, vending machines are not just restricted to selling sodas and coffee. They can sell almost anything. From hot chocolate to cereals, employees can buy them all. This is actually one of the reasons why employees become motivated at work. Everyone wants the freedom to choose what to eat and drink.

  1. Cost-Effectiveness

If you have in-house vending machines, it makes sense to subsidize the cost of items so as to encourage your employees to buy from you. To employees on a budget, this is a cost-effective approach since they’ll be able to save. You’ll be surprised to find some employees buying food and drinks for taking home in the spirit of saving.

  1. Staff Camaraderie

The staff likes to make friends. They want to interact during their break and share a few things. Vending machines provide them with just the perfect camaraderie opportunity. They are able to crack jokes and forget about work stress if any. You too can have the opportunity with some of them during office breaks when you go to the vending machines to grab something to eat or drink.

To the Employer

  1. Work Morale

It’s widely known that happier employees are productive. So, you have to do everything possible to lift their work morale. One incredible way to do it is by stationing vending machines within the business area. Since they’ll have the freedom to buy whatever they want and are able to get them at subsidized prices, they’ll feel satisfied working for you. In the end, work productivity will improve considerably.

  1. Time-Saving

Generally, it’s time-consuming to go out to look for food during working days. As the employer, this is counterproductive since time is money. Investing in vending machines ensures that these employees don’t go out often. This is because they are able to get (in-house) foods and drinks that they would get outside the business premise. This is not all. They are able to buy them cheaply. This is a reason enough to keep them onsite. In the end, office hours are significantly saved.

  1. Corporate Wellness

Though vending machines of the old days were known to only dispense sugary and unhealthy snacks, what we call junks, the narrative has changed. Today, you can have your office vending machines selling everything that you can think of. This is meant to encourage corporate wellness. Employees will not be forced to look for healthier foods somewhere else since they’ll be available in-house.

  1. Customize Selections

When you approach a vending machine company, you can ask them to make you vending machines that meet your needs. For most business owners, customization means dispensing a variety of products. For others, it means the freedom to serve hot cocoa or coffee. For a few, it means to only accept card payments. Whatever customization means to you, it’s possible with vending machines.

  1. Extra Money

From an entrepreneurial standing, vending machines at the workplace are an extra way to inject money into the business. Since employees and visiting customers will be paying cash, you don’t have to worry about selling on credit. Though you may not get so much if vending machines are not the focal point of your business, what you get is enough to meet a few business expenses. Besides, your employees will be returning a fraction of their salary to you when they buy from the vending machines.

  1. Few Overheads

Unlike most mobile businesses, vending machines have close to zero overheads. For example, you don’t have to incur salary expenses as you can manage the vending machines yourself. All you have to do is restock the machines and come regularly to pick money collected. So, you don’t have to hire someone for this job. Additionally, there are zero advertising costs since the machines self-advertise.

  1. Cash Flow

The moment your vending machines start running and the first customer makes the first payment, cash will start to flow. Provided that the machines are placed in the right places and are running, there’ll always be money coming in. The advantage is that there are no collection issues. Unlike bank transactions, there are no bad checks with vending machines. Similarly, there are no fake currencies when it comes to vending machines. They are programmed to notice this. Thus, you are guaranteed genuine money in the long run.

Closing Thought: Are Vending Machines Worth Investing in?

Clearly, both the employer and the workforce benefit from vending machines at the workplace. So, yes they are worth investing in. They make things easy for both the workers and the employees and in the end, the business as a whole gets to improve. In case you had doubts about this investment, it’s time the doubt vanishes as you join the world of vending machines. Chances are that you won’t regret it.

What Did the First Vending Machines in the US Dispense?

Call it an evolution or simply advanced technology, vending machines are a trend. We’ve seen vending machines that dispense weird things like crabs and lobsters. We’ve also seen unique options that dispense automobiles, gold, and other valuables. And we can’t forget vending machines that prepare and dispense pizza and fries. So, what’s next? Actually, nobody really knows. We just have to wait and see. Luckily, a majority of these vending machines are found in the US. So, the next inventions will probably be in the ‘Land of the Freed’.

But, are you aware of the item that the first vending machine dispensed? Just for your information; the first-ever vending machine was invented outside the US. It was actually in Ancient Greek at around 215 BC and the man behind the creation was Greek Scholar Hero of Alexandria. This vending machine was designed to dispense holy water in the ancient temples. Since then, different nations have been borrowing the concept. Among the top beneficiaries is the US and it was in 1888 that we saw the first local creation. To help you understand this journey, here’s a breakdown of the items dispensed in their chronological order.

Gum – 1888

As mentioned, 1888 is the year that we saw the first vending machine in the United States. It was launched by Thomas Adams Gum Company in New York City to assist the company to vend tutti-frutti gum. A number of these dispensers were installed along the subway and the streets to target commuters.

Classic Foods – 1902

1902 is a historic year in Philadelphia. It’s the year that the first-ever coin-operated automat restaurant was launched. Going by the name Horn & Hardart, the automat restaurant was in operation till 1962. Though no one really knows why it had to close down, the impact of the restaurant is not something to be easily forgotten in Philadelphian history.

The joint was critical during the wartime as it enabled the locals to grab their favorite classic foods fast. All they needed to do is to insert nickel coins and wait for their orders to be served. So, the waiting staff was not necessary. Similar restaurants were opened by the same company in New York during the same period.

Coated Gumballs – 1907

After the invention of the tutti-frutti gum machines in 1888, so many other companies saw the need to improve this innovation. One of them was Pulver Manufacturing Company. The company saw it necessary to add attractive touches to the original gum vending machines. So, they opted to dispense round and coated gumballs. In addition, they added games to the machines.

Because of the additional touches that were really attractive to passers-by, these machines were nicknamed ‘trade stimulators’. Whenever a buyer would buy gumballs from the machine, the machine would move around in an attractive fashion. The innovation started in 1897 but it was only commercialized in 1907.

Soda – 1920

The soda vending machines are probably the most popular commercial dispensers in the US. Though such inventions existed before 1920, it was until this historic year that the machines were fully automated. So, in the eyes of America, actual soda vending machines were invented in 1926. The machine would dispense the beverage into cups.

By the time it got to the 50s, there were more classic dispensers for soda bottles. As a matter of fact, these vending machines would sell mostly Pepsi and Coca Cola drinks. A majority of the machines were a product of Vendorlator Manufacturing Company, a California-based company.

Cigarette – 1926

The 1920s saw many innovations of the vending machine hit the US market. Considering that cigarettes are a popular consumable, William Lowe saw the need to automatically sell them. So, he created the first-ever cigarette vending machine in the US. Nonetheless, the technology didn’t receive the intended market reception.

Its popularity has diminished over the years. This is because of increased worries of underage buyers. Unlike in Europe and Asia, there are no proper age verifications procedures in the US for the buyers. In these two continents, buyers are required to produce an ID, a driving license or any other form of identification.

Coffee – 1946

In the 1940s, Vendorlator Manufacturing Company was taking the American food market by storm. They went from soda dispensers to coffee vending machines. They saw an opportunity to help coffee vendors sell their products more conveniently while saving on labor. This gave birth to the idea of having coffee breaks in workplaces.

Sandwich – 1950

To complement coffee vending machines, Vendorlator Manufacturing Company created the first sandwich dispensers. The machines became so popular in the 50s for people who wanted to have sandwiches on the go.

Life Insurance – 1950s

The American airports saw the need to cover passengers against flight crash risks. So, they introduced life insurance dispensing machines in airports. The insurances were to protect the family of the policyholder in the event that the plane crashed and resulted in death. Unfortunately, these machines barely survived two decades.

Snacks – 1972

In 1972, Polyvend saw the need to sell snacks in an attractive manner. So, they came up with the first-ever glass-front dispensers. This was to target consumers with cravings. The customers would find the dispensed snacks irresistible after seeing them through the glass fronts.

2006 – The Year of Credit Card Scanners

In 2006, the vending machine technology took an enormous jump in the US. Within a decade, almost all vending machines in America would accept credit cards. These vending machines were associated with specialty merchandises like electronics, snacks, beverages, books, oral contraceptives, life insurance, and OTC drugs.

Basically, there’s a specialty dispenser for almost everything that you can buy from a physical or online store. But still, you should expect weirder and more unique vending machines to grace the American market.

Closing Thought:

Looking at the path that vending machines have taken over the last century, it’s has been a long one. What’s amazing though is the fact that you can’t tell what will be dispensed in the next few years. The technology is getting impressive by the day and so the options are genuinely limitless. Judging by the progress so far, it’s quite likely that we’ll see some unexpected items being dispensed in the next decade.

How Profitable Are Vending Machines?

Thanks to vending machines, you don’t have to be on standby to receive orders from customers. The customers can basically serve themselves. These automatic retailers are the new trend in the commercial sector and they can dispense a range of items. From foods and drinks to medicines and newspapers, they are customized to dispense them all.

Since they allow convenience and flexibility in terms of purchases, they are likely to guarantee a steady income. Simply, if you are looking to improve your revenues, you can do it with the right vending machines. So, it’s not a question of whether they are profitable or not, as they are, but a question of how.

Understanding the Profit Margins

You probably have seen adverts indicating that you can make some amazing financial returns without so much effort if you use vending machines. But, how realistic are the adverts? According to a recent finding by NAMA (National Automatic Merchandising Association), about 18% of vending machines around the globe generate $1-$5 million annually.

Well, this can be good news or bad news depending on how you look at it. It’s bad news in the sense that the Better Business Bureau warns of so many scams and unending lawsuits which could erode your profits. On a positive note, nonetheless, vending machines can be really profitable if well taken care of and used creatively at the right locations.

Also, vending machines situated in high-traffic areas like shopping malls, hotel lobbies, hospitals, and schools are likely to generate more profits than those located in low-traffic areas. In this case, NAMA suggests that you are likely to generate $250/day if you sell drinks and $500/day if you sell snacks in the high-traffic areas.

Generally, NAMA considers the following factors to be important in determining your profit margins:

  • Your day-to-day operations
  • The location of your business
  • Your source of financing
  • What you are dispensing
  • Your regular suppliers

Understanding How the Profits Are Generated

You probably are wondering where the profits will come from considering that you’ll spend some hard-earned money to install vending machines. Well, there are different ways to generate profits for your business and one way to do it is through savings. Here are some logical ways of saving with these machines:

  • Saving on operating costs – Vending machines are generally cheap to operate as they do not require so much labor. Actually, you only need someone to occasionally inspect and restock them. The other duty is to pick up the money. This is a one-man job and so you don’t need to employ extra hands. So, the money saved on labor can be injected back into the business to make up for profits.
  • Saving on overhead costs – As already mentioned, you are able to save massively on labor costs. In addition, you don’t need to incur advertisement costs as vending machines self-advertise.
  • In-house saving – Let’s face it; it’s not just the outsiders who’ll buy from your vending machines. Even your employees will do it. This is usually the case when vending machines sell foods and drinks. Since the employees don’t have to go out looking for food and drinks, they are able to save office hours and this is a plus for your business. More importantly, the employees pay for their items and the money contributes towards your profits.

Besides savings, you can make profits with vending machines in the following ways:

  • Steady income – The advantage of vending machines is that they can sell any time of the day or night, unsupervised. So, you are guaranteed steady income as long as the machines are in operation and as long as customers continue buying. The secret is to base your vending machines in high traffic areas. The moment your customers sees your business to be a reliable one, they’ll always buy from you.
  • Employee productivity – The availability of vending machines in your business not only motivate customers to make purchases but also the employees. They are able to understand that their personal needs can also be met when they are still working and this boosts their work morale. Their performance improves significantly and at the end of the day, this improves your business productivity and profit margins.

Understanding the Costs Involved

Usually, the difference between making money with vending machines and suffering a loss is the costs involved. Here are the major ones:

  • Cost of the machine – The cost of buying and setting up vending machines varies depending on the type of machine and what is dispensed. Some companies offer standard vending machines for snacks or drinks at a bundle price of $2,500. This covers 10 machines.
  • Repair and maintenance costs – Most vending machines come with extensive warranties and so you don’t have to worry about the repairs and maintenance. But still, you should verify from the seller what the warranty covers.
  • Cost of restocking – Once you have set up your vending machines, you have to put some money aside for restocking it until the profits are steadier. The cost depends on what you are planning to sale.

General Tips for Improving Your Profit Margins

  • Busy location – If you are looking to sale more, then you have to find a busy location to set up your vending machines. It can be on a busy street, around a movie theatre or in a shopping mall.
  • Be trendy – Vending machines are a trendy innovation and so you have to invest in the latest designs. Furthermore, you should sell items that the current consumers want to buy.
  • Grab attention – You can install bright and shiny bulbs on the vending machines to attract distant customers.
  • Act convincing – Preferably, go for clear glass fronts so as the passersby customers can notice what you are selling. It’s a powerful way to convince them to buy.
  • Stock up – With vending machines, the more you stock up, the likelier you are to make sales. The more the sales, the higher the profits.
  • Use a truck – Depending on how big your business is, you can make it mobile by installing vending machines on trucks. This will help you reach a wider audience.
  • Get licensed – Since you require a seller’s license to run vending machines in some places, you should get it. This ensures that you operate freely.

Closing Thought:

There’s absolutely no doubt about vending machines being a source of profit for businesses. You can use them to generate more revenue each day. However, you have to know how better you can leverage their powers so as to take advantage of willing customers. This means coming up with a perfect marketing strategy. Vending One can help!

10 Unique Vending Machines around the World

When the term vending machine is mentioned, a majority of us only think about sodas, candies, and snacks. What you probably do not know is the fact that these machines can be designed to dispense anything. Out there, there are vending machines that dispense gold coins, cars, art pieces, crabs, gifts, among other unusual items. Some are weird but incredibly cool. Others are just beyond human comprehension. Well, you have to travel to see some of these exceptional designs to believe them. So as you can have somewhere to start from, we have compiled a top 10 list of some of the world’s most unique vending machine and where you can find them:


  1. Gold ATM, UAE

Who could have predicted that gold can be dispensed by a vending machine? This invention made its debut at the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi. It literary works like a cash ATM, only that it dispenses gold coins instead of paper money. You can buy gold coins from different countries like South Africa and Canada through the vending machine. Recently, such machines were installed in Florida. So, you don’t have to make the trip to the United Arab Emirates if you are already in the US. Just go to Florida and you’ll have an experience of a lifetime. If you have been looking for a way to buy genuine gold coins, then the Gold ATM is the way to go.

  1. Gift Machine, Dubai

In any holiday season, gifting is always a special occasion. However, it can be really difficult to find the right gift to give. In Dubai, you don’t have to struggle about it. All you need to do is visit one of the gifting machines in the streets. By the touch of a button, you can buy your special gift. From underclothes to scented candles, the vending machine has it all. You don’t even have to worry about the packaging as the gift will come with its own special wrapping. The bonus is that you also get a gift bag for carrying the gift. The shopping experience is just exceptional.

  1. Umbrella Machine, Hong Kong

Things get really interesting when you go to Hong Kong. Sometimes, it’s hard to see the rain coming and so you may need an umbrella when in the streets. The advantage is that you don’t have to struggle looking for one as all you have to do is to approach an umbrella dispensing vending machine. This is meant to save time and to prevent you from soaking in the rain as you look for shelter. Most of the umbrellas are easy to carry and so you shouldn’t have a problem putting it into your bag when the rain stops.

  1. Apple Products Vending Machine, USA

If you are a fan of the iPhone, the iPad or any other Apple product, then you can view the latest designs in Las Vegas. You’ll be able to access several vending machines showing Apple products. A majority of them are located close to airports and major hotels. Though you can’t buy directly from the vending machine, it allows you to know what products are on offer when you visit an Apple outlet.

  1. Live Crabs Machine, China

Speaking of weird vending machines, this one definitely fits the bill. The machine sells to you live crabs that you can bring back home to keep as pets or cook them. Well, the former reason is a bizarre one. To most people, the dispensing of the crabs is just horrific. Though these vending machines are not located everywhere in China, you’ll find them on major streets. The surprising thing is that the crabs remain alive even after packing. This is because they are totally chilled. The chilling temperature makes them dormant as long as they are within the vending machine. The bonus is that the packaging is edible and so can be consumed alongside the crab.

  1. Used Car Selling Machine, USA

A few years back, an Arizona-based auto company going by the name Carvana Dealership launched vending machines for selling used cars. Though they have an online platform, their strongest selling point has been the dispensers. Now, the company is expanding. They have vending machines for used cars in Washington, Philadelphia, and other places. Wondering how these vending machines look? Well, they take the shape of a tall building where cars are arranged on floors. The cars are found inside glass walls and so you can see them clearly when outside the building.

  1. Art-O-Mat Vending Machine, USA

In the streets of North Carolina where this invention originates, you are likely to buy the best local art pieces on the streets via the vending machine. The design is an improvement of the cigarette vending machine. Each vending machine is filled with small art pieces that are created and designed by local artist. So, if you are looking for American art and you really want to support local talent, then you should buy from Art-O-Mat.

  1. Farmer’s Fridge, Canada & USA

Who said that healthy foods can’t be dispensed as easily as junks? The farmer’s fridge is a vending machine that allows you to buy fresh and organic vegetables. The produce is mostly local. So, you don’t have to worry about what to buy when you get the vending machine. These foods are not just nutritious but also delicious. They basically do not compromise on taste or nutritional value.

  1. Pharmashop24 Vending Machine, Italy

In Milan, there’s an automatic dispenser that sells to your diapers, pain killers, and contraceptives. Considering that most shops don’t run 24/7 in Milan, these vending machines allow you to get the pharmaceutical products whenever the normal outlets are closed. Besides, most people like buying pharmaceutical products discreetly. You get this advantage when buying from Pharmashop24.

  1. Pizza Machine, Germany

Lastly, your favorite delicacy can now be dispensed by a vending machine. You just have to make the trip to Germany to witness this incredible innovation. The interesting thing about the machine is that it allows you to pick the pizza type that you want and it’ll be ready after a few hours. What pops out of the machine is freshly-prepared and incredibly delicious. Mark you; the machine handles everything from the preparation to the serving. The innovation is just genius.

Closing Thought:

Call them weird, special or just cool; the above machines are the epitome of vending machine innovation. They make traveling to these countries exciting and shopping tempting. You can’t help but try to be a part of the lovely experience.

When Were Vending Machines Invented?

Today, you are likely to see a vending machine in any physical store that you enter. Whether it’s the supermarket or a local restaurant, there’s always a designated vending machine that’s meant to serve you whenever you feel like buying. You actually don’t have to worry about the time of shopping or who’ll serve you as vending machines have you covered. From foods and beverages to cigarettes and newspapers, there’s virtually a vending machine for everything.

You just need to insert money or a credit card and the vending machine will automatically sell to you. Because of this, they are often referred to as automatic retailers. But, as you continue to marvel at these masterpieces, do you really know when the machines were invented? We try to break down the history of the machines for you so as you can understand their origin much better.

The First-Ever Vending Machine Invention (215 BC)

The first vending machine dates back in Ancient Greek in 215 BC. It was a piece of work by mathematician Hero of Alexandria. The idea behind the invention is very interesting. You were required to feed the machine with coins so as it can give you ‘holy water’. Once you insert a coin into it, it would fall on an empty pan that was linked to a lever. So, the weight of the inserted coin will pull the attached lever resulting in the flow of ‘holy water’. The water was called ‘holy’ because it was tantamount to a ‘Greek god’. Later in 1615, the tobacco vending machine was invented in the UK. The machine was a portable one.

The First Modern Vending Machine (the 1880s)

The first-ever commercial (coin-operated) automatic retailer was invented in London early in 1880. The whole idea was to help busy and money-hungry entrepreneurs sell quickly and in bulk. The automatic retailer was designed to dispense postcards. The man behind the idea was Percival Everitt. This machine not only became an important dispensing point at the post offices but also at the railway stations. Later, the vending machine would dispense envelopes and notepapers in addition to postcards.

In 1893, the first vending machine company was founded in England. The company going by the name Sweetmeat Delivery was established to facilitate installation as well as maintenance of commercial vending machines. In 8893, a German entrepreneur who was selling chocolate set up his own company for building vending machines for chocolate dispensing. The machine will later be used to dispense soaps and matches.

The First-Ever Vending Machine in the US (1888)

The US is never left behind when it comes to inventions. Though the first modern vending machine was invented outside the US in the early 1880s, a similar design was built in the US in 1888. The company responsible was Thomas Adams Gums. The vending machine was meant to sell fruity gums in New York City, especially around the railway area. In 1887, the company added a gaming incentive to their invention. This prompted people to refer to the machine as a ‘trade stimulator’ as it encourages more people to buy the gums.

The Evolution of the Vending Machine

So much has changed since the first invention of the vending machine. So many vending machines companies have been founded over the years. So, technology has vastly changed. Here’s a breakdown of the evolution:

  • 1890 – The First Vending Machine for Drinks

From dispending postcards and gums came vending machines for beverages. At around 1930, the first vending machine for dispensing sodas was invented. The only available dispensed soda drinks at the time were Pepsi and Coke. As expected, Coca Cola made the way for Pepsi. In 1946, the vending machine for dispensing coffee was invented for institutions. Later on, vending machines for canned soda were invented. The machines were also used to dispense water in restaurants and supermarkets. Surprisingly, a majority of the earlier designs are still in operation to date.

  • 1926 – The First Vending Machine for Cigarettes

The need to have a quick way of selling cigarettes prompted American inventor and innovator William Rowe to come up with the first vending machine for dispensing cigarettes. However, the invention has been marred with concerns about underage buyers and this messed up their popularity. Actually, they are more popular in Japan and Europe as opposed to the US as the countries have better ways to ensure age verification before selling.

  • 1950 – The First Vending Machine for Life Insurance

In 1950, American airports saw the need to sell life insurance via automatic selling points. So, they started using vending machines to sell policies to travelers that would assure them death coverage in case their flight crashed. Unfortunately, these machines were short-lived. They barely lasted two decades.

  • 1950 – The First Vending Machine for Schools

As you already know, the first coin-operated vending machine was invented in the 1880s. However, the machine was only redesigned for school use in 1950. This is the year that students and teachers would buy drinks and candies from automatic retailers. However, there were and still, are restrictions pertaining to what sugary consumables should be dispensed in schools and which ones shouldn’t.

  • 1965 – The First Vending Machine to Accept Paper Bills

Early in 1965, a man by the name John Greenwick decided to build a vending machine that uses paper bills instead of coins. This was a great shift from the original coin-operated vending machine. Now, people don’t have to carry coins anymore because of this invention.

  • 1972 – The First Vending Machine for Snacks

In 1972, a company by the name Polyvend saw the need to dispense snacks. So, they invented the first glass-front vending machine for shops. The machine would entice kids and adults with candy cravings to grab a bite. Such designs are quite popular around the shopping malls and in the streets.

  • 1987 – The First Vending Machine for Frozen Foods

The invention of vending machines for beverages and snacks opened the door for options that dispense frozen foods. Actually, the manufacturer saw the need to hold foods within the vending machine for long without risking them going bad. So, 1987 saw the origin of some of the world’s best vending machines for frozen food products.

Closing Thought:

The vending machines have come a long way and there is no doubt about it. From using coins to now using credit cards, it has been a story for the ages. These automatic retailers make things really interesting for the modern consumer. They not only get to save time but labor too. They are truly the future of the retail business.