Possibly the first known use of a vending machine is over 2000 years ago, where Hero of Alexandria is said to have created a coin-operated machine that dispensed Holy Water. Although this can’t necessarily be cited as the start of the vending revolution, it does show that time and space saving distribution techniques have been around for a long time.
Vending is largely concentrated in the service industry, where machines reduce the burden on busy catering staff. From garage forecourts to out-of-town shopping centres, vending machines allow customers in a hurry to get what they want, whilst cafes and restaurants can concentrate on those people who have more time to spare.
In the business sector, vending machines are bring cost and time benefits. It takes significantly less time for an employee to get a round of coffees from the vending machine than it does to put the kettle on, find clean cups and distribute a tray full of drinks. Many businesses choose to subsidise drinks machines to encourage employee use, whilst others charge a reasonable fee, receiving a commission from the vending operator in return for making the site available.
Vending isn’t just about food and drink, however. Hygiene companies use a range of vending machines in both business and public conveniences, washrooms and gyms. In fact, anything that has a reasonably long shelf life and is small and light enough to dispense can be stored in a vending machine.
The big boost in vending machine market growth comes from the availability of different payment options. Vending machines no longer have to rely on coin payment; most machines can be configured to take payment by notes, credit or debit cards and so the range of goods that can be sold in this way increases.
The key trends for the growth in the vending market are:
• Replacement of traditional canteen facilities
• Increase in 24-hour business operations
• Diversification of payment methods
• Increase in the number of people shopping and other leisure pursuits
This is a great time to get into the vending business. Whether as a full time business, or a part-time role, there is a significant profit to be made in this sector.