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So How Does a Smart Vending Machine Work Anyway?

Updated: Jul 26, 2023

Placed mindfully in parks, cafes, gyms, schools and housing apartments, there is a high chance, a smart vending machine will turn out to be a delight box for someone. Often stocked with goodies like snacks, refreshments as bizarre as paan, and even t-shirts, cashless vending machines in India are gaining more popularity.

Reports estimate that by 2032, the global retail vending machine market will reach an estimated value of US$ 130 Billion, attracting multiple businesses towards it.

And within this mesh of changes surrounding smart vending solutions, is an unanswered question, “how does a smart vending machine work?”

Let us dive a bit deeper to understand how a smart vending machine works.

Within the mysteries of vending machine operations:

To understand how a vending machine works one has to take into account its type, customised features and the specific technology used while making it. However, on an all-around spectrum, there are two types of vending machines in India:

  1. Traditional cash or coin-operated vending machine

  2. Smart and cashless vending machines.

This divergence stems from the user perspective or the way the customer interacts with the vending machine to complete a transaction.

How are Smart Vending Machine Operations Different from the Traditional?

In the case of a traditional vending machine, it is all about the spare change. The consumer is required to insert coins as per the product cost, press the right button and collect the product at the end. With little advancement in technology, these machines were soon customised to accept cash payments as well.

Some of the earlier vending machines like tea and coffee vending machines or soda vending machines in the early 90s were coin-operated. These machines mostly had spiral holders that would move in order to dispense the product.

Such vending machines worked unsatisfactorily as the coin often got stuck within the machine and made it a nil transaction. Moreover, it was difficult to refund the amount to the consumer instantly.

A traditional coin-operated Coca-Cola vending machine

Then arrived the smart-cashless vending machines. These technology-driven smart machines permitted cashless transactions via multi-channel payment methods. Currently, digital payment gateways like credit/ debit cards and UPI are available on all smart vending machines in India powered by Vendekin Technologies.

The consumer needs to scan a QR code which will direct them to a web app page, where a catalogue of products appears. After selecting the product/s through the web page, they can simply proceed to pay digitally by scanning a QR code on the vending machine.

Making Life Easier: Smart Vending Machines

This wave of advancement has also allowed the customer to experience a more inclusive retail experience with minimal physical contact and shopping time, giving rise to contactless vending commerce.

Additionally, it allows the consumer to select multiple orders and pay a cumulative sum in the end instead of purchasing one product at a time.

Smart vending machine software like vNetra by Vendekin, also helps businesses track inventory levels, vending machine operating status and collect data on consumer buying patterns and much more. These kinds of benefits have made many big FMCG players like Coca-Cola and Haldiram switch and buy smart vending machines.

A smart and cashless vending machine.

Apart from the way the purchase is made, the working of a smart vending machine can be further understood by its internal processes.

A Deep Dive Inside the Working of Vendekin’s Smart Vending Machines

Vendekin’s smart vending solutions come with vNetra, a GDPR-compliant, AI/ML-driven back office vending management software powered by Google Cloud, and the RetroBox, a plug-and-play device that converts manual vending machines to smart vending machines.

These two direct how the vending machine works from a business perspective. Below a step-by-step working of Vendekin’s smart vending machine software:

1. Vendekin's cashless vending solutions connect to the user’s phone via Bluetooth making it convenient for businesses and consumers to operate the vending machine even if internet connectivity is low.

2. Once the machine-specific QR code is scanned through the phone, the consumer can select the product/s and proceed to pay digitally. Depending upon the dispensation method (Springs Coils/Sensor-Based/Elevator driven/App-based) the product is dispensed. This can include hot food items, chilled beverages, snacks and literally anything that can fit into a vending machine.

3. The consumer transaction is now complete but the smart vending machine software, vNetra aided with IoT and AI technology stores this transaction in its backend database. Along with this, the AI system also tracks and stores the information related to user purchasing patterns - what do people buy in a certain location, season, through a device and so on, product performance - what products do better in certain times, locations, how often are they purchased, state of the machine, customer interests, inventory levels, total sales, discount performance and more.

All this data can be accessed by vending machine operators and brands via the dashboard provided through vNetra.

Glimpse of vNetra, a cloud-based AI software by Vendekin

For example, Coca-cola has invested massively in AI-based smart vending machine software globally. This has helped them identify the best location for vending machines, engage more with loyal consumers, develop a strong brand-recall value, and create a personalised consumer experience. All this adds up to better returns for the business.

Vendekin Technologies provides a 360-degree solution for smart vending. One can buy smart vending machines powered by vNetra and even convert an old-manual machine into a cashless vending machine with RetroBox, which can then be customised with all smart vending machine software including vNetra.

RetroBox is a palm size, plug-and-play device that takes less than 5 minutes to set up and provides touchless transaction facilities without any app download. Through our technical team, Vendekin also aids business owners to learn about and adapt to its smart vending software.

Knowing how a smart vending machine works, it becomes easier to identify which dispensing model goes for which product. For instance, candies are stored in horizontal trays while inclined trays are used for beverage vending machines. Likewise, the spiral dispensing model works well for t-shirt and snacks vending machines, for more delicate products, elevator dispensing can be more apt.

A spiral t-shirt vending machine
An elevator pan vending machine

Additionally, buying a smart vending machine can also result in the following benefits:

  1. Enhanced consumer experience

  2. Seamless and cashless transactions

  3. Cutting down the restocking time and costs

  4. Analytical advantage

  5. Effective, safe and fast refunds

  6. Amplified revenue

  7. Competitive edge over other brands

  8. Safe and hygienic retail experience for consumers

  9. Long-lasting warranty

Making any kind of investment in a smart vending machine today is making the right investment in the future retail sector. If you want to give your business a successful future, then going phygital with Vendekin’s smart vending solutions is an easy way to begin and scale.. For a guided walkthrough drop us a message on or give us a call on +91 9555712713.


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