"Manufacturers who are looking for other outlets for their products need to partner either with their distribution/dealer network or with an organization like Shop24 or Zoom Systems which handles multiple lines of nontraditional vending products," Barsanti continued. "The current vending operator is reluctant to sell nontraditional vending products because of the higher logistics cost (increased SKUs) or unproven sales success."
The automated DVD rental machine, however, appears to be a hit.
Touch Automation recently installed its flagship "TA 10" system in a Scottsdale, Ariz., shopping mall. This is an expanded kiosk designed to allow video stores a 24/7 storefront with no staff. It holds 4,500 units in inventory and services eight users simultaneously. The system is the focal point of a 500-square-foot retail storefront.
The system is strictly cashless, accepting credit and debit cards, and transactions are monitored in real time via a telemetry connection, noted Don Blust, CEO and founder.
MovieMate Inc. recently introduced DVD machines with smaller footprints — 3.5 square feet. The machines offer more flexible vending options and cost less than most competitive models, according to Joe Ianno, the company's CEO. The machine communicates data by means of cellular signal.
Ianno said his Centerport, N.Y.-based company has roots in telemetry technology and became interested in vending after making a module for an intelligent vending machine in Belgium.
MovieMate builds its own vending machines and is targeting existing vending operators, Ianno noted.
Zoom Shops offer electronic consumer products
Zoom Systems, which makes a built-in glassfront shop that features an interactive touchscreen, has 100 Zoom Shops in the U.S. and recently announced a goal of placing 10,000 units in five years. The systems dispense portable PlayStations, printer cartridges, DVDs and Ipods in airports, supermarkets, shopping malls and hotels.
The emerging technologies of in-store marketing via digital signage are also crossing over to the vending industry. Retailers are using in-store kiosks to integrate with customer databases, Web content management, inventory data and loyalty programs.
Vending operators can add electronic video screens to their existing machine banks. State-of-the-art vending machines can have a video screen installed on or near the machine that is powered by the machine's DEX port. Content can be uploaded by means of a telemetry connection.
The purpose of the video screen is to allow the vending operator to provide a more impactful advertising message. The operator can use the screen to promote products. It also gives the operator and/or product supplier a medium for selling advertising.
Sanese Services Inc., the Columbus, Ohio-based vending, foodservice and OCS company, has been testing an ATM machine that has such a video screen. Ralph Sanese, company president, likes the in-store signage. "It (the video screen) is going to make the site say what I want to say to their own people (customers) more effectively," said Sanese.