Arūnas Eitutis | 15 August 2021

7 Vending Machine Trends You Need to Know About

This has been a year full of the winds of change, and it would be naive to believe that it wouldn’t affect vending machine trends for the upcoming years. With smart technologies rising and changing consumer needs, you can forget about old and rusty vending machines that take your money and stop working. Now, they do not only offer diverse food and beverage options but can also serve you via one click on your smartphone.

The vending machine industry is vastly growing and expanding to different sectors, well beyond the traditional food and beverages. Now vending machines include gadgets, electronics, and other necessary appliances. As horizons expand, the industry is estimated to reach 5426.9 million USD by 2023. Can you fathom the sales potential? 

This is an industry that has been neglected in all facets: from the technology and range of products to the user journey and industry operators, there’s so much that can be improved. Today, we will unveil 7 vending machine trends that will define the industry for years to come. 

Are you ready? Let’s dive right in.

1. Cashless payments

Always carrying cash and having the right amount of coins is more than inconvenient, which is why more and more people choose to use debit and credit cards or mobile payments. In Lithuania, the number of card payments per inhabitant doubled in three years, from 2014 to 2017, and the number is continuously growing. Let’s not forget the fact that more people started using their smartphones to pay for goods and services.

For the longest time, vending machines have been accepting only coins and bills, but cashless payments are here to change that. Now, you can swipe your credit card, and a machine accepts the payment. Also, modern vending machines can be used via mobile apps that not only make payments but can also show what’s in stock and make more personalized offers based on your purchase history. We will talk about personalization later on in the article.

For now, let’s just focus on the fact that no business can operate in today’s market without the ability to process cashless payments. It’s a business pillar, a must-have, and a company driver. The world is going cashless fast and the vending machine industry needs to keep up. 

2. Payment security

The option of cashless payment is the reason and the root of the second trend in the vending machine business – increased payment security. Although swiping your card fits the speed and convenience mantra everyone wants, it’s not always the safest option. Due to scams and data breaches, the vending industry is working hand in hand with financial institutions to ensure the highest security measures. 

European citizens can relax because, in 2019, the European Union passed PSD2 (Payment Service Directive). The directive ensures Strong Customer Authentication (SCA), which protects your data and bank accounts from breaches and unauthorized money withdrawals. 

The new regulation brings more transparency and security to the vending machines sector, too. However, if you pay in large amounts, a machine might require an additional authentication procedure. There is still room for improvements in this area but payment security is a slow-burning fire that needs patience and meticulous planning to reach its desired result. 

3. Automated shops

Amazon has been testing automated retail waters for a while now. In 2016, the company launched the first automated shop called Amazon Go, it was a breakthrough for unattended shopping. Even though vending machines are usually fully automated, it could be the beginning of a more significant thing.

As the industry grows, so will the industry trends, offering a wider variety of goods such as food products, soft drinks, hot drinks, and other options that are traditionally found in supermarkets. Also, voice commands could improve the service to be more understandable and inclusive for everyone.

The level of automation can significantly improve and bring the entire industry a step closer to the digital standards expected from consumers. You don’t really need research to validate the fact that people are used to a level of automation in all parts of their life. Manual involvement has been significantly decreased and this is what is expected of the vending machine industry as well.

4. Vending machines: Time for more diverse options

Now, we can set aside technologies and come back to the core of the vending machine industry – goods inside machines. When you think of vending machines, you probably think of an old box stuffed with chips, a drink, or some snacks. This is not the case anymore. 

Retailers began focusing on broader food options and even gadgets to meet changing consumer needs. New-age vending machines offer various alternatives such as vegan and gluten-free healthy foods. There are also options for consumers looking for an energy boost or a quick snack. 

In terms of product variety, consumers now expect to see items such as umbrellas, headphones, and similar gadgets. Many retailers still avoid placing more expensive products in vending machines, but with increased safety and lower vandalism rates, these industry trends are changing, too. 

What is becoming very apparent is that the vending machine market is maturing and it is no longer limited to packaged food. Now, vending machines are promoting less junk food, healthier alternatives, and an overall turn towards healthy food. 

Diversity is not only found in the range of products offered by new vending machines. With research suggesting that the vending machine market size will increase, so will the locations where you can find them. From restaurants and the local convenience store to apartment communities, hotels, schools, airplanes, trains, manufacturing facilities, and office buildings, vending machine sales will skyrocket in the years to come.

5. Eco-friendly solutions

This is a stat nobody should be proud of: in 2016, 5 tonnes of waste had been produced per European inhabitant, and only 37% of that was recycled. This adds up to millions of tons of waste we generate each year around the world, and as only a small part of it gets recycled, retailers have to take action. 

As a result, vending machine companies are introducing reverse vending machines to recycle packaging after the product is consumed. This ability is one of the most important innovations and steps to combine business and the health and well-being of our planet. We are expected to protect the environment and any modern business worth salt its salt should keep that in mind. 

Companies like Coca-Cola, Tesco, Co-Op introduced their version of this solution, changing market dynamics as well as the future trends, accelerating vending machine manufacturing of the same caliber. When you see industry leaders moving in that direction you realize its importance. 

6. Vending machine operators need a field management software

We can discuss automated vending machines as much as we want to, but nothing happens without teams that take care of the maintenance work. Those that run vending machine businesses, understand the value of vending machine operators and how even the slightest inconvenience can disrupt their work. 

Many of these issues occur due to poor employee work planning and dispatching. It inspired companies to adopt digital software to help with vending business operation planning. Field service management software for vending is a useful tool to manage your workforce, plan routes, and assign tasks. What’s more is that you get features such as reporting, calendar, and communication platforms.

A good field service management software can be the difference-maker, the reason why your business stands out in the vending industry. It is the tool that customers never see, an internal solution that optimizes the performance of your operators and solves all the operational hurdles you’ve been dealing with up to now.

7. Interactive, personalized, and smart vending machines

Much like everything else in our life, vending machines will eventually reach the point where they develop their own algorithm. The vending machine technology might not yet be at that point but don’t be surprised if you see this happening in the near future. What are we talking about? 

You pull out your smartphone, get on to the vending machine app, and log in to your account. The process from there on is quite straightforward: you pick more than one item from the machine, check out within the app and simply collect the items from the machine. 

The advantage of this whole process is that it allows for a customized user journey. The app knows what you like and the next time you log in you can enjoy things like recommendations, as well as notifications for new items in the vending machine. 

The possibilities are endless with this new type of technology as the app can direct you to the nearest vending machines or inform you if one of them is out of order. The relationship between consumers and vending machines immediately becomes more interactive, dynamic, and results-orientated. 

Vending machine industry: Recap

The humble vending machine has been overlooked and dismissed as an industry for the longest time. The truth is that the more information you acquire about the industry, the more you realize its potential and the new business opportunities it presents. 

Today, we have identified some unique trends that so let’s summarize the key points that can contribute to your competitive intelligence: 

  • The option for cashless payment is not a key trend or the future of the vending machine business but a new reality for all businesses across all industries. Customers don’t carry change or cash anymore and find it much easier to pay using their cards or mobile phones. It’s faster and more convenient. Cashless payments are compulsory, not optional for the vending machine business.
  • The global vending machine market size was valued at USD 30.30 billion in 2018 and is expected to register a CAGR of 9.4% from 2019 to 2025. Projections are showing that the vending machine industry is only getting started and still has a long way to go.
  • Healthy vending machines are one of the key trends emerging in recent years. With customers turning their attention to a more fitness-orientated lifestyle, healthier options are at the forefront of vending machine businesses.
  • Vending machine businesses are expanding to different locations and are offering more options. Consumers are naturally attracted to vending machines that offer more products and services. The days where vending machines were the last option for hungry people looking for unhealthy snacks are long gone. The vending industry is catching up to the times, understanding what is expected from it and the need for greater product and locations diversity.
  • Vending machine operators are the heart and soul of the vending machine industry. As technology progresses and improves, machine operators need the necessary tools to keep up with the rate of change and demand. Investment in new technology is important but investment in the people that maintain the new technology is paramount. Vending machine operators are the backbone of the industry and the right field service management software can take them a long way.
  • The future of vending machines is not hard to predict: a mobile app. An app will elevate the level of control a customer has over their buying journey and it will create a stronger, more personalized relationship between consumers and vending machines. By going digital, vending machines become part of a greater ecosystem and come within a click’s reach for potential customers. 

Frontu Field Service Management Software

It’s time to align your vending business with the times and meet new trends confidently. Frontu helps to alleviate the transition and simplify your daily field service operations. Frontu FSM platform is not only about planning, but also about empowering your vending machine operators to do their best work. People are always the foundation of any business and giving them the necessary tools can help them reach their true potential. 

Using a digital platform to monitor work saves time and gives you more resources to start implementing a more automated business model and environmentally-friendly vending solutions. The industry is changing and you can never look for solutions in the same place the problem was created. You need to think outside the box and seek solutions that are as contemporary and inventive as necessary. 

Book a demo and see your vending machines business rise up a level. Frontu is not the future of FSM, it’s the present.

Arūnas Eitutis
Founder & CEO

Arūnas is spearheading the Frontu efforts as the company’s CEO but still finds the time to share some of his knowledge, expertise and experience in the FSM sector through our blog.

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