A Little Vending Levity For A Hectic Time

Dec. 10, 2015

With the seriousness of end of the year financial statements and budget planning for 2016, I thought it might be nice to take a break. So in this blog, I want to discuss a couple new ideas for vending such as unusual vending machine placement opportunities and how more and more locations are using venders as an extension of their storefront.   

Vending operators in France may have the ultimate opportunity for a captive audience if a Zodiac Aerospace patent is approved. The French airline proposes that the lower cargo area of planes could be converted to a passenger cabin with food and beverage vending machines. The lower-deck passenger cabin, linked to the main cabin by stairs, would have additional headroom by eliminating overhead luggage storage and reduce weight by using screens instead of windows. The purpose of the vending machines is to allow refreshment to passengers without a food galley (or presumably staff) in the lower level. It’s an interesting way to increase the number of passengers, by more than 100 additional seats, according to the article from the Daily Mall in the U.K.   

Extending the store hours 

Outside of the theoretical, there has been a surge in retailers using vending machines to extend their store hours in order to reach consumers day and night. From the first reports of the Sprinkles cupcake bakery opening a storefront vender to a butcher shop in Cle Elum, WA offering locally made beef jerky and summer sausage. Retailers are breaking the boundaries of automated delivery. Short stories, mini works of art, library books, beauty products, personal technology, fishing bait, gold, flowers, caviar, bike parts, and even employee supplies have all been reported (and I'm not even going to mention the marijuana vending machines). It’s an evolving use of what has traditionally dispensed food and beverages, at least for the past decade. 

And because I live in Wisconsin, where beer is an essential holiday party drink, my personal favorite is the craft beer vending machine. A Nebraska bar owner placed 300 different types of beer in a elevator style vending machine. He has patrons pay the bartender and use what are essentially coupons to purchase beer from the machine. Talk about thinking outside the box of what to do with an old (or new) vending machine. Make it a robotic bartender. It's creative thinking at its best.  

If there was a serious take away in this collection of humorous tales of creative vending machines, it would be that the idea of automatic merchandising is far from dead, and instead, increasing in this country. Most of these non-traditional venders are not in our industry, and never will be, but their continued popularity shape a more machine-friendly perception among the consumer. From advertising to saving money on employees, entrepreneurs are looking to vending machines.