What are the Different Types of Vending Machines?

Vending machines provide customer satisfaction and value for any business establishment while generating profits. They are a cost-effective way to provide food and beverage options for your employees and clients without the hassle of payments, resupplying, and maintenance. Nowadays, vending has expanded its options and expanded to different sectors, increasing its accessibility and versatility. 

Different Types of Vending Machines- Bottoms Up Vending

Consumers are not only limited to just food and drinks but can also buy other merchandise and specialty items that were otherwise not offered a few decades back. If you’re considering putting a vending machine in your business establishment to improve customer satisfaction, there are different types to choose from. 

Let’s look through the different vending machines to help you decide which is the best for your establishment. 

Food Vending Machines

Food Vending Machines - Bottoms Up Vending

Vending machines that offer food or snacks have been around since the 1800s and started their humble beginnings by offering gum. This vending type has since expanded its offerings to other foods; presently, some vending machines provide hot and fresh food. Food vending machines remove the need to invest in a kitchen for your business establishment. Not only this, but you don’t need to hire extra staff, making food vending machines relatively cost-effective. Here are the different subtypes of food vending machines:

  • Snack Vending Machines – The most common type of food vending machines offer snacks such as chips, cookies, biscuits, chocolates, candy bars, and more. They’re found in most grab-and-go locations where foot traffic is highest, such as subways, hospitals, schools, and parkways. 
  • Cooked/Fresh Vending Machines – These vending machines are relatively uncommon and new. They’re similar to fast food establishments in terms of food offerings such as fries, hamburgers, hotdogs, flatbreads, and pizza. Some vending machines of this type can also offer fresh food such as salads, fruits, vegetables, and even eggs. In Japan, some vending machines offer hot ramen and rice meals, and even stranger still is a vending machine in China that sells fresh river crabs. These vending machines are usually located near train stations, malls, airports, sports centers, and supermarkets. 
  • Frozen Vending Machines – These vending machines offer patrons frozen food; ice cream vending machines are the most common. They offer popsicles, sundae cones, ice cream sandwiches, and more. There are also vending machines that offer frozen meat, meals, yogurt, and pastries, among others. Some frozen food vending machines in Korea offer dumplings, barbecued meat, rice cakes, and even fermented vegetables. 
  • Gym Snacks Vending Machines – Food vending machines in gyms and fitness centers offer unique snacks you don’t usually find in regular snack machines. Since gym-goers also watch their diet, the food offerings are suited for their needs. Examples are protein bars, low-sugar or low-fat snacks, and meat jerky. 

Beverage Vending Machine

Beverage Vending Machines- Bottoms Up Vending

These vending machines are similar to food vending machines in popularity and commonality. You usually see them side-by-side with food vending machines. In America, the very first vending beverage here was Coca-Cola soft drinks. Fast forward to the present, you have a variety of offerings ranging from fizzy, alcoholic, and non-alcoholic drinks. Here are the different subtypes of a beverage vending machine.

    • Soft Drinks Vending Machines – The most common beverage vending machine is carbonated or fizzy drinks from different brands, usually found alongside food vending machines. There are also low-calorie and low-sugar versions of these drinks, which adds more options for consumers. 
    • Coffee Vending Machines – These vending machines are also popular since many people drink coffee anytime. New iterations of these vending machines offer different flavors and have expanded to include iced coffee drinks and tea. These vending machines are found in self-service workplaces such as offices, conference rooms, and gas stations. 
  • Alcoholic Beverage Vending Machines – While this is an uncommon type depending on alcoholic laws in certain regions, some vending machines offer canned beers, flavored beers, vodka, rice wine, and even alcohol-spiked carbonated drinks. Some countries have banned these vending machines due to growing concerns about minors being able to purchase alcohol easily. They’re usually found near convenience stores, red-light districts, and night markets in countries that allow these vending machine types. 

Combo Vending Machines

Combo Vending Machines- Bottoms Up Vending

As the name suggests, these vending machines offer a combination of snacks and drinks. These are popular for vending machine businesses that are looking to hit two birds with one stone and save on costs instead of buying two separate machines. They’re usually customizable in terms of product offerings like combining food and drinks dispensing to serve consumers’ needs. These vending machines are placed in locations with high foot traffic, such as large workplaces, hallways, canteens, subway stations, terminals, and more. 

Special Vending Machine Types

As mentioned in the previous sections, vending machines offer various products besides food and beverages and include other sectors such as retail, merchandise, and more. Here are the unique types of vending machines that are gaining traction and adding to this machine’s versatility and reliability:

Merchandiser Vending Machines

This vending machine can now be found in different settings and sell various items ranging from small to large items. Here are some examples and sub-types. 

  • Toiletries Vending Machine – Often found near public restrooms or in some office spaces and establishments, they sell toilet paper, tampons, menstrual pads, wet wipes, and tissues. 
  • Office/Schools Supplies Vending Machine – Found in workspaces, communal spaces, and schools; they sell pens, papers, staplers, glues, pencils, and even printer or copier cartridges. This ensures that employees or students never run out of these supplies to promote productivity. 
  • Medical Vending Machines – A new addition to the product offerings of vending machines, these machines were developed to adapt to the recent Covid-19 pandemic and offer a variety of personal protective equipment and disposables such as antigen test kits, gloves, masks, face shields, hazard suits and rubbing alcohol and sanitizers. In some places, there are vending machines that sell over-the-counter maintenance drugs and in newer iterations, these machines can even scan the QR codes of prescribing doctors.  
  • Gadget Vending Machines – While not necessarily new, these vending machines offer a wide variety of gadgets racing from the pricier products to cheaper ones such as cellphones, tablets, earphones, headphones, computer accessories and  

Outdoor Vending Machines

While they offer snacks and beverages and other merchandise like regular vending machines, what sets them apart is that their product offerings are tailored toward people who do outdoor activities such as trail hiking, biking, and camping. They can offer towels, emergency supplies such as matches and flints, and energy supplements. 

Smart Vending Machines

In keeping up with modern technology, some vending machines have adapted certain technological advancements usually found in other devices such as mobile phones, smart TVs, tablets, and PCs. Notable features include the use of a touchscreen with a dedicated user interface for accessibility and inclusivity, as well as voice-activated commands and cashless payments. Mobile phone linkage with an app interface is also the trend nowadays and is essential for maintenance tracking and resupply runs. Different industries, including the unattended retail sector, are already following suit. 

Final Thoughts

The vending industry is as resilient and adaptable as it was 2000 years ago when Hero invented the first vending machine that dispensed holy water. From holy water to a multitude of items that include just about anything you can think of, vending has come a long way. It’s exciting to consider how the vending industry will change over the next ten years, with probably more offerings than ever and its value and convenience for other business establishments only increasing.