April 19, 2014

The Trials, Tribulations, and Future of the Lucrative Vending Machines Business, Part 1

Trials, Tribulations & Future, Part 1

Before there were healthy vending machines with 23″ LCD screens displaying advertisements and product information, or touch screen computers taking your orders, or vending machines that correct their own problems … okay I’ll stop, but these super, mutated, technology-driven healthy vending machines are out there.  But before the egg, there was the chicken – or was that vice-versa ?  I’ll leave that to you to debate. Here’s a little timeline:

1880’s – The first commercial coin-operated vending machines were introduced in the UK.  It dispensed post cards.  Soon after, one was invented to dispense books.  The rest was history …

Late 1800’s (circa 1888) – By this time the vending machine business had become a hot commodity.  It was a convenient way for people to get what they need cheap, easy, and on-the-go.  In 1888 the first vending machine was introduced to the United States.  It was installed on the subway platforms in New York and sold Tutti-Fruiti Gum.

Early to Late 1900’s – The early 1900’s brought such memorable favorites like the gumball machine, soda machines, and stamp machines.  Innovative vending operators began to take their vending machines business to another level.  Vending machines were being adapted to fit the role of several very different businesses.  Some examples were, tobacco, postage, post cards, concessions, and even the restaurant business.  In 1902, the first coin-operated restaurant opened in Philadelphia and kept its doors opened until 1962!

Tribulations – In the Late 1900’s to present the vending machine business has plateaued and even lost a lot of business given the influx of credit card use and, what seems to be an avoidance to the tide of change (i.e. most still use rudimentary technology from the 1960′s).

Various variations were developed as a result of the invention of the vending machine.  Throughout the late 1900’s to present vending machines have become more user-friendly, have adapted to the tech fever that’s going around, and have broken into yet another industry – the health industry.

Stay tuned for part two …  See if you can come up with an answer (or two) to the following question:

What does the future hold for the vending machine business?

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