In 2014, smart vending machines were ranked on the 79th position on the JWT intelligence list of ‘100 Things to Watch for in 2014’. And now, over 4 years later, there are an estimated 4.6 million vending machines in the United States, with each of them earning about $7 billion annually.
Right from its inception in the early 1880s, where vending machines were used to avail postcards, to now, where these machines are literally used for anything from food to even gold, this is the one industry that effectively keeps up with the changing demands of consumers.
At Vendekin, we believe that to excel in any industry, keeping track of what’s trending in the industry and finding ways to inculcate those trends into our services is of utmost importance. With this thought in mind, we have compiled a list of the 4 more notable advancements in the vending industry that have caused the growth of this industry, that are mentioned in this article!
#Trend 1: Make way for the most unique vending machines!
As mentioned earlier, vending machines are so popular because they don’t restrict themselves to any single niche. They provide customers with quick access to any type of product they require. And, this year, the introduction of different types of vending machines has proved this statement true!
Here is a list of the newest and coolest vending machines in the market today!
Dream Vendor: A 3D Printer Vending Machine
While the popularity of 3D printers has surely given way to cheaper devices, it is still well beyond the reach of an average university student. However, vending machine manufacturers have solved this issue for the students of Virginia Tech, who now don’t need to worry about these monetary issues while trying to turn their ideas into a physical reality. Staying true to the main aim of vending machines, i.e. to provide the more convenient service to fulfil consumer demands, the DreamVendor, a 3D printer vending machine caters to the needs of students looking to bring their designs to life.
This vending machine has surely taken the capability of vending machines to cater to user demands to the next level!
Earn A Coca Cola by Shaking A Leg
Are you craving a Coke? Can you dance? If yes, then this machine is what you’re probably looking for! A vending machine in South Korea will give a free Coke to anyone who is daring enough to break out in a dance routine and skilled enough to keep up with Coke’s champion. All you’ve to do is stand on a red circle in front of the machine and watch the multi-panel video display members of a local band 2 PM start to groove. If you can keep up with them, you will probably be rewarded with a refreshing drink! The vending machine uses Microsoft’s Kinect, a motion-sensing input device that tracks a user’s moves with an infrared projector, to decide whether you’ve got the moves.
While a great marketing gimmick, this vending machine truly shows the potential of brands communicating and interacting with their consumers.
#Trend 2: Vending machines to replace traditional newspaper stands?
According to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, vending machines will soon replace newspapers stands at substations across New York City. Frequent train riders can expect machines like those at airports selling items like travel-sized toiletries and on-the-go snacks.
The shift from human-operated newspaper stands to automated vending machines in the underground marketplace is the outcome of changing consumer preferences and habits, which includes a fall in the demand of newspapers and candy bars.
Due to this, the MTA revealed that they had trouble filling vacant newsstands in recent years. The numbers they revealed were truly shocking! Approximately, 40% of the 326 retail spaces on NYC transit property are either emptied or shut.
In an interview with Daily News, Janno Lieber, the MTA’s Chief Development Officer states that there are currently 86 empty retail spaces available on the subway, with some of them being occupied by vending machines soon.
However, simply placing vending machines won’t be enough. In the age of tablets and mobile phones, the need for newspapers is close to none as people prefer getting information just like they prefer getting food- on the go and fresh! Especially, in subway stations, where timing is everything!
The icing on the cake would be to install a smart vending machine, which, like Vendekin’s technology, allows quick selection and payment options, ensuring the consumer doesn’t waste a minute more than necessary!
Wouldn’t it be great if the vending machine sold not only the newspaper but also a cup of piping hot coffee which the user can carry on the way? Providing complementary items can be a way to cater to consumer demands and increase adoption for these newspaper vending machines!
#Trend 3: Vending machines mimic consumer food preferences too!
With its unstoppable growth, which has been proved by an eye-opening article published in the Guardian, it is obvious that Veganism is not just another fad and is in fact here to stay.
More and more brands are introducing the vegan alternative for their health-conscious consumers. In fact, according to research conducted by Mordor Intelligence, the global gluten-free market grew from $1.7 billion in 2011 to $3.5 billion in 2016. Moreover, the research also states that it is forecasted to grow to $4.6 billion by 2020.
And, this demand has been reflected in the vending machines as well. The vending machine is playing its part by stocking more gluten-free options, which will soon become a standard practice across all vending machines.
This only goes to show that the vending ecosystem is truly in sync with consumer demands and are the perfect way for brands to show their consumers that they care about their requirement.
Traditional retail requires manpower and manual assistance at brick and mortar stores. Despite this, they do not fulfil the demands of a consumer “on the go”. With vending machines, manpower can be utilized in a more efficient manner to manage supply at various vending outlets. With the help of technology, field staff can be equipped to refill machines faster and more accurately. Since vending machines advertise for themselves, consumers can have access to gluten-free products all the time at their convenience!
#Trend 4: Increase Consumer Convenience Through Mobile payments
Digital payments have been around for a while now, and are slowly, but steadily, taking over the way we carry out transactions. Research suggests that over 87 million people are using Apple Pay worldwide, and 34 million users avail the services of Samsung Pay. China is leading the way for mobile payments, with an estimated 47% of smartphone users actively making use of mobile wallets.
What makes mobile payments and vending machines the perfect match in heaven is the fact that they were both introduced for the same purpose: give the user what they want, when they want, with minimum hassle. Hence, with the rise in mobile payments, smart vending machine manufacturers are trying to welcome this trend. With vending machines that accept mobile payments being labelled as part of the ‘smart vending machine’ category, every machine owner is jumping at the opportunity to provide their users with a happy experience! You can read more about this trend and Vendekin’s take on it in our blog!
At the heart of all the latest advancements, there are really two main aspects that act as the driving force for the vending industry: technology and health. Moreover, the fact that people will always need refreshments on the go is proof of concept that vending machines are the retail channel for the future! But, what’s more, interesting is that from convenient payment to personalized service, the future of vending looks promising!
Watch this space for more updates about the trends in the ever-growing vending ecosystem, or contact Vendekin to be part of the future of vending!