One of the best technologies ever developed by man is the vending machine. This clever innovation dispenses various items like lottery tickets, consumer products, cologne, cigarettes, alcohol, beverages, and snacks. There are even machines that sell gems and other precious stones to customers!
How it all Started
This type of machine was conceptualized by the Greek mathematician and engineer Hero of Alexandria during the first century. Back then, the so called vending machine offered holy water. It was during the Industrial Age that these machines became prominent.
The first modern machine that was coin-operated dispensed postcards back in the 1880s in London. In the United States, in 1888, vending machines started offering gums on the train platforms of New York City. This was made possible by Thomas Adams Gum Company.
By 1897, games were added to the vending machine by Pulver Manufacturing Company. This idea also gave birth to pinball and slot machines. By 1970, talking vending machines became popular. Whenever a customer bought an item, the machine would say ‘thank you’.
Westerners are used them to sell personal items. For instance, some of them are located in toilet facilities. Ladies’ restrooms usually have machines that offer tampons or pads, while in men’s rooms the machines sell condoms, cologne, etc.
From the 1950s to the 1970s, they sold life insurance, especially those placed in airports. However, such practice soon disappeared as ruled by the American courts. It was only in 1994 that they focused mainly on offering basic foods. Some machines offered eggs, milk, and many other commodities.
Between the years 2000 through 2010, increasing numbers of vending machines were specialized. Indeed, these machines displayed the best technology available. As you may have noticed, vending machines have evolved ever since they were first launched onto the market. Aside from offering food items, some have specialized in offering artwork, electronics, and other non-traditional products.
Did you know that some machines are now accepting credit cards? Before, they were designed to accept coins only but things have progressed in recent years. Since many people are now using credit cards it was a great idea to have such machines accept credit as well. Cashless payments are authenticated immediately because of wireless technology.
Touchscreen vending machines are also gaining popularity these days, as are robotic machines. Perhaps you’ve already seen some of them with robotic arms. When you place cash or coins, and you’ve chosen an item or product, the arm will get it for you.
Vending in Business
Whether you are a sole entrepreneur or a big company wanting to run a line of vending machines, this kind of venture will work for you. Prior to entering this business, it is vital that you look for an ideal location. Conducting thorough market research is important since you need to determine the right location for installation. Hence, location is a significant factor in this kind of venture.
Vending business is not for everyone. You should be willing to work hard and invest time in this kind of venture. After finding a location, you will then have to choose the items or products that the vending machine will offer, and you have to provide excellent customer service. Without the latter, you will struggle to compete with existing competitors.
In any kind of business, it is always best to have a formulated business plan. Planning can guarantee success in the vending business, and you also need to possess the right knowledge and skills in dealing with a wide variety of customers.
Many would-be entrepreneurs prefer used vending machines because it allows them to earn money 24/7 and they don’t have to work eight hours straight. But you also need to monitor them both to ensure cleanliness and a satisfactory level of provisions.
Have a good ear to listen to the needs of your customers. As mentioned earlier, customer service is a great factor. If customers know that you care for their needs, they will keep on coming back. With today’s advanced technologies, you can expect more from vending machines and so you will have better opportunities to earn income.
Victor McNamara works at Vending World. Vending World is a leading distributor of used vending machines. They have been selling them since 1968 and can fill almost all of your general vending machine needs.