Vending Machines


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A vending machine is a combination of different products. The machine itself could be compared with the smallest scale supermarket without a sales force. And as in the case of a supermarket, the vending machine needs a continuous restock of products in order to operate. For this same reason the service providers in this area are called operators. The advantages of these vending machines are that you can serve yourself at any moment during the day on any day of the year. And the service is transparent; it is fully WYSIWYG.

Most popular machines are in the 4C’s (or currently the 8C’s) category: 4C’s: An abbreviation standing for what were the basics of vending as it evolved; The industry started with i. e. COFFEE- CUP SODA- CANDY- CIGARETTES and grew to almost 8 C’s (Coffee, Candy or Confections, Chips, Cold Drinks, Canned Drinks, Cigarettes, Cold Cup, Commissary. (Source:

According to the same source, the bottled and canned beverages make up 49.5% of the market (followed by hot beverages 10% and vended food 7.8%).

The most important sector where the machines are used is the manufacturing sector (41% according to the NAMA (National Automatic Merchandising Association). This means that each vending manufacturer will most certainly have its own machine for which employees can test the product and service. Having such a machine on location provides a great test case for improving the quality of these machines (“Eat your own dog food”). Offices represent 26% of the sales in vending machines, for example the large number of coffee machines. And in the healthcare sector the penetration is about 7%.

Some sales figures; in 1994 there were sold vending machines for about 18 billion dollars and in 2004 this number increase to about 30 Billion.

Next, the situation in Europe . . .

© 2006 Hans Bool

Hans Bool is the founder of Astor White a traditional management consulting company that offers online management advice. Astor Online solves issues in hours what normally would take days. You can apply for a free demo account


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