More and more companies are moving away from the traditional physical stores to many other creative means of distribution of their products. Out of many of these creative methods, vending machines seem to be the rising trend.
This may just be the best thing businesses could ever discover. Off course not all types of businesses would be able to utilize such a method, however retail companies selling small to medium items like electronics, cosmetics, clothing, snacks, toiletries etc, would find this a very useful innovation. As long as you select a machine with features most suitable for your business this would definitely be a way to save money and increase profit margin while still targeting the masses.
How do vending machines work?
Most vending machines have these three fundamental operations :
The customer uses the keypad to select the item they want. This is usually the main input device and home to the machines central computer.
- Paying for the product
The customer pays for the product by using either cash or card, depending on what the machine accepts. For cash payments the machine has a scanner that scans the paper or coins to determine which one it is . It verifies it against the requirements for that specific dollar amount as stored in its central computer.
- Dispensing the product
When the money has been inserted into the machine, it then calculates the amount against the price of the item selected . If the amount is not enough the machine signals you to insert the balance . If you inserted more money than the item is worth the machine gives you your change.
After the money has been received the machine then dispenses the product . There are many different methods in which v vending machines dispense their items. This all depends on the design of machine Two common methods include the method where the machine activates a motor which spins a metal coil that holds up the product .This coil then pushes it forward allowing it to fall into the retrieving bin. There would be sensors letting the machine know that the transaction was successful .There is also other methods where a motorized arm is used to grab the product and then drop it in the dispense bin.
Benefits of vending machines
Vending machines are very convenient. Because of their are mobility, you have the benefit of them being able to be placed in more locations especially those with high traffic like airports, malls and even supermarkets etc. They give customers the ability to purchase at flexible times, sometimes even 24/7 depending on the location of the machine.
Vending machines are not very expensive in comparison to the cost of buying or leasing commercial property. They allow businesses the opportunity to sell in more locations at a lesser cost when compared to the traditional retail store.
When it comes to restocking a vending machine, it would be a lot less than restocking and entire store and maintaining a retail store is very costly. This would include cleaning and maintaining the furniture and fixtures in the store. It would also include securing the stock, using scanners, product security tags, hiring a security guard, hiring more staff to be on the floor, installing cameras etc. With a vending machine you have a lot less maintenance .
Renting the space for vending machines would not be a lot, especially when compared to that of a store , also you will find that the amount of electricity needed to run it would be far less that the utility bills of a traditional store.
A Major benefit of using vending machines would be the fact that a lot of labour or staff would not be necessary. One can then conclude that the overheads of a vending machine are drastically low when compared to that of the traditional retail store. All these benefits of vending machines lead to the reduction of overhead costs, hence the increase in the profit margin for the owner, therefore making it a success.
Disadvantages of Vending machines
One of the major disadvantages of vending machines is the fact that customers are unable to try the products, feel them or see the quality first hand before purchasing. This is a big problem for customers who like to see and feel stuff before purchasing. With traditional stores, they can feel the material of clothing , try it on, get their foundation matched by a customer service representative etc.
One other disadvantage of using vending machines is the inability of the customer to bargain which may be at the disadvantage to the customer and can also be to the business owner. Although this may seem like could be an advantage to the business owner because in a physical store there’s the possibility of the customer wanting to negotiate a discounted price on an item which can be both a bad and a good thing. Bad in a sense that anyone would rather their items sell at full price rather than at discounted prices. However, to a customer the ability to not do this may be preferable . To the business owner however, it could be a disadvantage because of such customers who you could possibly upsell, but they would only do it if a discount is offered. A business owner would agree that sometimes it’s better to give a discount on an upsell than to not sell at all. So this could possibly be a disadvantage to the business owner.
With the use of vending machines, one must be prepared for possible cases of fraud. Fraud is a pretty common among business people who use vending machines. This is very common with the machines that accept debit and credit cards. These machines can be hacked and with the increase in technology, there are many devices designed to scam people using vending machines.
Theft is also pretty common , sometimes people attempt to steal the entire machine, especially if its in an unsafe location. You also have cases where people hit the machine hard enough in an attempt for an item to fall into the dispenser . As you can guess another very common disadvantage of using vending machines is vandalism and the damaging of the machine by delinquents or even competitors .
Like any machine, vending machines can break down. This could be a very major problem when the machines require repairing . This may mean that the machines require frequent servicing. Servicing and repairing may mean that a machine may be down for a couple hours or days depending on the extent of the damage. This can cause the business owner to lose money and maybe possible customers.
In terms of taxation of such machines ,you may find that in some places taxation of vending machines is high.
Overall, investing in vending machines are great if you think that it is suitable for your business. As long as you do the necessary research and get a machine that’s right for you, having vending machines would be great. Also keep in mind that most the cons of having a vending machine can be avoided if you take the necessary precautions to minimize the possibility of these unfortunate events.
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Greenwald, M. (2015, March 19). 8 of the most clever vending machines and why they’re strategic. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/michellegreenwald/2015/03/19/8-of-the-most-clever-vending-machines-and-why-theyre-strategic/#5fd0262412d1
CostSoldier. (2015). Advantages and disadvantages of vending machines. Retrieved November 7, 2016, from http://www.costsoldier.com/facilities/vending-machines/a/advantages-and-disadvantages-of-vending-machines/