Let’s first take a step back.
What products were sold in the first vending machines?
The first soft drinks vending machine is from the late 1930s. Vendo, founded in 1937, was one of the first innovators in this field and to this day is selling thousands of vending machines, now under the name SandenVendo.
Since then, pretty much anything you can imagine has been sold in a vending machine…
We have picked some of our favorite vending machines.
A few of our favorite things… to sell in a vending machine
Sanitary products and COVID 19 tests
The pandemic has led to some rapid innovations. Many of our customers, like Selecta, quickly added hand sanitizers and masks to their assortment. Soon after, a colleague from our Hong Kong office spotted the first vending machines dispensing COVID 19 tests. These machines have become more prevalent, with a recent Forbes article highlighting the trend at US airports.
To respond to challenging pandemic times, the Invenda team also worked on some practical and convenient shopping solutions and how to safely provide necessary PPE equipment, which is another example of un limitless opportunities that vending machines can provide.
While many economists no longer believe in the gold standard, gold is still seen as a safe and predictable investment by many across the globe. So, it comes as no surprise that someone thought about selling it in the most anonymous and convenient way there is: through a vending machine. Gold vending machines first popped up in the Emirates and have spread all the way to the UK. Even The Guardian reported on these vending innovations.
We talk a lot about vending machines becoming more and more premium. And so, we are never surprised when we hear about vending machines dispensing gourmet products, such as champagne. We have also heard of vending machines selling caviar in Moscow, cigars in fancy speakeasies, and even live crabs in Nanjing, China.
T-Shirts, tights, and umbrellas
We admit we’ve all been there. You didn’t check the weather, spilled some ketchup, or just forgot to pack the necessities for a trip. In Japan, where there are more vending machines per capita than anywhere else in the world, you will be able to find umbrellas, shirts, socks, and much more. Uniqlo recently started using vending machines to dispense products.
It is said that the first vending machine to sell books was dreamed up to sell seditious books that could get a bookseller into trouble. There are also schools repurposing their vending machines to sell books instead of sugary snacks and drinks. Even Amazon has experimented with selling their eReader, the Kindle, in vending machines. This intriguing book vending machine became popular among readers throughout the years, as you can read in Bookstr, and some amazing solutions are yet to come.
But will my product really fit in a vending machine?
Yes, vending machines are very flexible. For example, in Invenda’s vending machines, the height of the shelves can easily be adjusted to accommodate products of all heights. Depending on the width of the spiral 1, 2, even 4 spirals can be configured to dispense the product perfectly. Finally, spirals or conveyors can be used, depending on what’s best for your product and its shape and packaging.
What’s the craziest vending machine you have seen? Let us know and reach out to us here if you’d like to find whether your product could be a good fit for a vending machine.