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Room For Growth In Vending Channel

In the wake of recent tests by Sony, Macy’s and Motorola to use vending machines to sell CE products comes a timely study on present and future use of self-service machines in a variety of categories from WSL Strategic Retail, a New York-based consultancy. A recently-released report based on the study suggests that “delivering products via self-service vending machines is an opportunity waiting to happen.”

Of the 1,507 vending machines sampled, the study found that beverages were the most commonly-sold products through this channel, found in 69 percent of the machines. But WSL also found that photo prints were sold in 30 percent of units, phone cards in 12 percent, and DVD rentals in 9 percent of the sampled machines. Six percent of the machines sold gift cards, and another 6 percent allowed shoppers to download music and make custom CDs.

The study also found that, based on consumer response, there is room for growth in a number of categories including gift cards and recharging services. Younger customers, generally between 18 and 34, were “most enthusiastic about a world of self-service machines for a broad range of products,” the report noted. The category that people of all ages were most interested in seeing dispensed through vending machines is photo printing.

Based on the study’s findings, WSL believes that “self-service machines may be an under-utilized source of revenue for retailers and service for shoppers.” It also pointed to potential benefits for manufacturers that use vending machines in terms of expanded distribution opportunities.