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The vending machine could be a weapon in the business giant wars to come

The vending machine could be a weapon in the business giant wars to come

Vending Machines Set to Take Over the World?

This blog is more than you wanted to know about vending machines. But it makes a serious point to watch out for, regarding one of the world’s giant businesses.

Everybody knows the wide range of things that can be bought from a vending machine these days. Food, drinks and snacks, sim cards, condoms, stamps, soft toys, tobacco, socks and books are the well-known examples.

There is even a machine in Germany called ‘Gold-To-Go’ which will sell you a bullion bar for a hefty price. In an amusement centre a machine will ‘sell’ you coins to play their gambling machines.

Jukeboxes are music selling machines. Parking meters sell you time in a space. And you could argue that a public coin-operated toilet is a vending machine selling a service.

Weird and Wonderful Machines

Vending machines have also been logged selling wine and other alcohol, bicycles, board games, after party shoes, footballs, marijuana and guns.

This site also demonstrates vending machines installed to make a point. One looking as if it sells replacement artificial limbs to highlight work safety, and an ‘anger release’ machine which shatters a piece of china into a million pieces for you in return for a coin.

In response to the question ‘what is the strangest item(s) you have seen sold in a vending machine…?’ internet responders concluded that Japan was the weirdest with machines that sell seaweed and used panties!

Japan apparently has the highest per capita machine ratio with one vending machine for every 23 people. For a nation obsessed with pachinko, that may not be surprising. According to 14 Cool Vending Machines from Japan they have Coca-Cola Robots and egg, ice, beer, Pringles, Instant Noodles, flowers, vegetables, batteries, live lobsters, umbrellas and smart car machines in automatic venders!

Amazon Steps Forward to Clinch the Market

According to Marcus Wohlsen on Wired (10 Jan 2014) it seems that at the last Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Amazon didn’t run ‘a big booth on the show floor or unload a bombastic keynote speech.’ No, instead they ‘wedged a vending machine in between a Wells Fargo ATM and a scuffed-up door at the Las Vegas Airport.’

From it they sold Kindles to showgoers flying in and out of Las Vegas. ‘It was Amazon’s way of taunting eager-beaver competitors who spent heavily to flog their devices to the CES masses. Like Apple, Amazon knows it will get attention for the smallest of moves. It didn’t even have to show up at CES.’

In fact it has been possible to buy Apple products for some time via street auto machines, but this Amazon venture is different, suggested Wohlsen.

He went on to explain that this move was more than clever marketing. It was ‘a foray into the world of offline retailing’, so for Amazon it was ‘a big deal.’ When Amazon enter the real world of in-store delivery lockers, delivery drones, grocery trucks or actual stores – ‘the company’s sheer scale and ambition demand that you think in terms of world domination.’

He explained that Amazon aren’t short of ways to sell their best-selling devices. This is about ‘bulking up its reputation as the everything store. Delivery can be too long to wait, so rather than too many brick stores, vending machines make economic sense for time-short, restless people on the move.’

Street Corner Amazon Next

Wohlsen pictured a near-future where hi-tech Amazon vending machines are on every street corner selling ‘the kinds of things that typically take shoppers to other stores.’ Less land, cheaper to run, low overheads. Refilled by drones.

It makes sense! If they are to become the ultimate everything store, top in the world, then a physical presence wherever there are humans, from malls to high streets, tower blocks to villages starved of facilities.

Suddenly, the humble vending machine is no longer so humble, but a front for a full assault on the wallets of the globe!

Blogs close to these issues:

Happy 15th Birthday, Dear Amazon, Happy Birthday to You, 28 October 2013

Keep Taking the Tablets No Longer Has a Medical Connotation, 1 October 2013

Shopping Online or On-screen, People Still Have to Shop, So What’s the Problem? 17 July 2013

Image: KengSiri