How To Increase Sales And Profits

June 26, 2020

After landing at the airport in Raleigh, N.C., I was walking to the car rental area when a big, red CVS Pharmacy vending machine caught my eye. It had over 70 items offered for sale! It dawned on me that if CVS can sell all those products, so can traditional vending companies. When I got to my hotel, I began to search online for what kind of merchandise is sold in vending machines across the U.S. that traditional vending operators may not be currently offering to their locations.

From meat to memorabilia  

Owens Meats in Seattle, Wash., has 12 meat vending machines placed at various locations in the greater Seattle area. I called Owens Meats and spoke with one of the owners, who said they’ve been selling beef jerky, pepperoni, summer sausage and other smoked and cured meat products for several years, with most products priced around $5 to $8. He said they will keep installing their “candy store for carnivores” at more locations. Some of their meat machines have sales of up to $300 per day, and at very good profit margins, he said.

Here is something that will knock your socks off: Nordstrom had called and asked if Owens Meats would put one of their meat vending machines at their flagship store in downtown Seattle. Of course, the answer was “yes” and this was featured on some of the local television stations — talk about free advertising!     

Macy’s sells Apple products — including AirPods and Apple Watch accessories — in vending machines at some of their department stores. I’ve often heard from vending company owners and managers that customers will not spend much money for merchandise sold through vending machines, but Apple products are priced higher than standard vending machine fare.

Ten years ago, the Minnesota Vikings placed vending machines offering apparel, memorabilia and souvenirs at Mall of America in Minneapolis, Minn. Some of the merchandise was priced more than $100.

Another travel discovery 

A couple of months ago, I stopped at a Florida welcome center on Interstate 75 while I was on my way back from our branch office in Marietta, Ga. When I visit an interstate rest stop, I always check out the vending machines. This time, a 5-wide snack machine caught my attention because it had no snacks. Instead, it had several different colorful Florida themed T-shirts, sunscreen, sunglasses and other items tourists use when visiting Florida, with prices ranging from $4.50 to $12.95. While I was standing there, two customers purchased products from the machine.

The price range of the merchandise in all these examples is far higher than the prices normally associated with vending machines. I started in the vending industry in 1994 in Orlando, Fla., and have had numerous vending operators around the country tell me that their customers will not pay over $3 for products out of a vending machine. It appears that is no longer the case in 2020.

Changing your perspective 

As Dr. Wayne Dyer said, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” If you are willing to change the way you have always looked at things in the vending industry and consider a new way to make money, you’ll realize it is staring you right in the face.

As NAMA states on its website, we are in the convenience services business. Visit your local convenience stores, observe their customers and you’ll notice that many of them are blue-collar workers, who spend far more of their hard-earned money in convenience stores than white-collar workers. This means that convenience stores are your prime competition.

Everyone agrees that manufacturing plants, warehouse and distribution centers are prime vending locations. Your goal should be to have as many of those blue collar workers buy from your vending machines as possible, and you can do this by offering some of the same products that they are currently buying from convenience stores: bread, milk, cereal, bags of coffee, 6- and 12-packs of soda, 2-liter bottles of soda, a dozen donuts, large bags of chips, beef jerky, etc. While these larger products will not fit in your standard vending machines, there are electronic retail vending lockers available from a number of vending machine manufacturers that would accommodate them. Many bigbox retailers now enable consumers to purchase items online and pick up these items through vend lockers in the store. This is more convenient for their customers, as they no longer have to stand in a checkout line. Imagine how convenient it would be for your customers to be able to just go to your vending machine before they leave work instead of making another stop on their way home to purchase items like bread, milk or a 2-liter bottle of soda. You could also offer prepaid phones, souvenirs, baseball caps, batteries, T-shirts, hoodies, DVDs, sunglasses, flip-flops, motor oil, toys at Christmastime, large bags of Halloween candy, heart-shaped boxes of candy for Valentine’s Day — the list goes on and on. Instead of making 50 to 75 cents per item selling traditional vending products, you can now make $5, $10, $25 or more per sale. Now, go sell more diverse merchandise from your vending machines and watch your sales and profits go up.

About the Author

Gary Joyner

Gary Joyner started in the vending business in Orlando in 1994. Since then he has owned, operated and sold three vending companies in Florida. Joyner is currently the factory authorized distributor for Federal Machine Corp. in the state of Florida.
In addition, Joyner has authored numerous articles for trade publications for the commercial cleaning industry trade publications including Cleaning Maintenance & Management, Cleanfax, Services Magazine and The Professional Cleaning Journal. He also has several articles published in Dealer Business Journal that was directed to the Buy Here Automotive dealers of America. All of the articles have been on helping companies grow their customer base and increase profits.
He has also been a seminar leader for several national trade organizations. He can be reached at [email protected].


Image by Felix Wolf from Pixabay
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