Tuesday, March 15, 2011

You Can Buy WHAT in a Vending Machine?

Not Your Mama's Way To Shop!

 Cape Girardeau, MO Central High School vending machines circa 1963

I've always loved to shop!  I enjoy a sleek department store the likes of Nordstrom or Bloomingdales, but there's certainly nothing wrong with a good specialty store.  I can spend hours in Sephora, Crate and Barrel or Anthropologie.  And a quirky, little brick-and-mortar ... bring it on! I thrive on effective salespeople, good customer service and the people-watching that only comes with the crowds that some people find undesirable. It’s the way I prefer to shop!

Products from companies such as Bare Escentuals, Dior, Philosophy and Korres available in Sephora vending machines

Now make no mistake; I spend my share of time online. Probably more than my share. It can be a very efficient way to make purchases, although not nearly as much fun as actually being out there in the trenches. I design jewelry, and there are many wonderful gemstone and component suppliers on the Internet. And of course, all the notable department and specialty stores make it their business to have impressive, efficient web sites. I find the selection is about as large as when the items are up close and personal, but I can't touch, and I can't try on!  Major drawbacks. 

But as popular as the online shopping experience may be, recent figures show that it's only about 5% of all retail sales. The fact is, that many research online and buy in store. And because most people still do their shopping in person, some well known retail businesses are looking for innovative ways to blend some of the online benefits with an offline experience. The result: high-end vending machines.

The Body Shop Vending Machines in supermarkets & airports very soon

Yes, a new breed of vending machine is popping up around the world in airports and malls as alternatives to traditional boutiques and brick-and-mortar stores. They have touch screens instead of buttons and sensors that don't process a customer’s credit card unless the chosen item has dropped. These modern versions of yesteryear's utilitarian vending machine look deluxe, flashy and futuristic and have screens that contain brand information, ingredients lists, and video demos. Heck ... who wouldn't want to make a purchase? 

The United States may be coming late to the party, but these machines will be installed in not only airports and malls, but will be materializing in supermarkets, military bases, college campuses, even chain stores.  While the manufacture of these newfangled machines, which cost $3,000 to tens of thousands of dollars, has created a small segment of jobs, we must remember that they lead to the loss of jobs associated with brick-and-mortar stores.

Not just another Kiosk - Proactiv machines replace sales person with touchscreen, but can't take cash or checks

The shopper can browse and buy without the interference or assistance of a sales person. A study by the NCR Corporation found that 86% of North American consumers were more likely to do business with stores offering some sort of self-service. Vending machines seem to combine this desire for self-service shopping with the instant gratification that the online purchases just can’t fulfill. It seems that I'm a member of the 14% minority that crave a real, live shopping experience filled with interesting people and places.

Vending machine dispenses gold at the Emirates Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi.

Best Buy entered the market at the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport selling digital cameras & MP3 players

You might have seen the new Best Buy vending machines in selected airports across the country. Starting as a unique venture at Dallas-Fort Worth selling digital cameras and MP3 players is now branching out into 12 airports, including Atlanta, Boston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. The high-end electronics vending machines are designed by ZoomSystems.  So next time you forget your MP3 player, keep an eye out for one of these Best Buy automated machines. Who says the airport sucks?

Vending machines aren't just for Kit-Kats and Cokes

Want a fresh pizza? In Italy, the "Let's Pizza" vending machine makes four types of pizza from scratch. The machine kneads the dough, spreads on sauce and cheese and toppings, and then bakes your pie in less than three minutes and has taken up residence in shopping malls and airports.

Got a craving for french fries? In Australia, there's a vending machine for that -- Hot Fresh Fries

In both California and Japan you can get fresh eggs from a vending machine:

Click to Play

Velkopopovicky Kozel Light - Price about $1.50

In the beer-loving Czech Republic local brew Pilsner Urquell developed a vending machine that scans your ID (or your U.S. passport) before giving out a cold can of pilsner.

Carnaby Street in the UK - not your typical Payless shoe store!

...next time you see a vending machine that seems to sell shoes...it probably does

In the U.K. they have these vending machines in the clubs where women can purchase rolled up ballet shoes to wear home at the end of the night... if their feet are tired - they even come with a drawstring bag to carry your shoes.  Expanding to America, Rollasole shoes will be available via vending machines inside New York and Los Angeles clubs.  They usually cost $5 - $8 and are extremely popular - available in pink, black, gold or silver.

Footzy Rolls - Rollable Shoe For Women Available In America

According to a recent New York Times article on this pro-automated trend, revenues for vending operators are expected to be $11.3 billion this year, up from $11.1 billion in 2010.

Japan has one vending machine for every 23 people. But will these new vending machines continue to grow in numbers in North America?  We demand a  satisfying shopping experience. A while a satisfying shopping experience  includes finding the right product at the right price, it also includes receiving good service. And it remains to be seen if shoppers can be convinced that good service comes in the form of a vending machine.

As for me . . . I'm off to my favorite brick-and-mortar, complete with helpful sales people and mirrored fitting rooms!


Kim said...

Some things are ok for that, pizza is one of them. but things you have to try on, like shoes? I'll stick to brick and mortar too.

Does this mean malls are a thing of the past?

Sea Flower Studios said...

Wow I had no idea vending machines were taking over! I have to say the ballet flats are a good idea but I think I would prefer to visit my favorite stores or just buy online.

Lissie said...

Cool post!
Thank your for sharing!

bountyofbeads said...

This was just to interesting/quirky?? We have the ProActive Machine in our mall, never seen any of the others. I personally like the touch and feel shopping much better.

New Hampshire Gardener said...

I don't know what this says about our future, less and less human contact seems to be the direction we are headed. A new level of super consumerism?
I'm glad I live in the country, not a lot of shopping opportunities but great people and service.

Crystal Zacharias said...

I've seen that before...not sure I love the idea!

Terra Verde said...

I love Sephora, Crate & Barrel, and Anthropologie, too!

I would have to add Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware. There's a huge shopping center about 1 1/2 hrs from my house that has all 5 of those stores in a row. BLISS!

Michelle said...

Part of the thrill of shopping is the service. I refuse to go through a self-service check out. Give me a "did you find everything you needed" any day.

asdesigns said...

wow! ive seen a practive one in a mall near me theyve had for years. but a lot of these are totally new to me.

i have a friend who lived in belgium for a while. and they had bread vending machines! and they were on random street corners almost like you would see a telephone booth.

Linda B said...

I can't imagine buying eggs or makeup from a machine, although I have rented DVDs.

The part about machines replacing jobs and customer service is NOT OK with me. That's why our country is in such a mess. People can't spend money because they aren't working.

OK, I'm getting off my soapbox.

Kelly said...

Wow! I had no idea you could get eggs, pizza and shoes from vending machines. Eggs?!? I do a lot of online shopping, too, so had NO idea they changed that much!! (GaleazGlass)

Leah R. Hood, Jewelry Designer & Artisan said...

I'm a brick and mortar girl. I want to touch and see and try on. For some reason I think I trust online more then these machines. LOL.

Lbtoyos said...

Wow, really great post, I can´t believe some of this machines, here are few and for usually items like cigarretes, drinks and chocolates.

magdamagda said...

I hope you like this one:) https://picasaweb.google.com/2008nordkapp/23_vienna#5253584580981915826

Sewinggranny - Mona said...

lol...I may not like to shop but not that desperate to get out of it!

Glitterbird Glamour said...

Hmmm...I am wondering if I can get a slug into the gold vending machine. Do you think it would work??? LOL!

I am all for expediency and saving time, but I would not be happy if I got something out of a vending machine and could not return it if it didn't fit or something.

Angels and Everlastings said...

Very interesting!

Crystal Eldoradosoap said...

Very cool post! love seeing all the different vending machines!

Kristi Michelle said...

well I don't get out much and with two little kiddos, I do most of my shopping online but the vending machine thing is truly genius! what a super post :0) ♥

new creationz said...

Whacky!! Never use them - they scare me!

petite hermine said...

Ha! I think those are pretty cool, but I'm kind of reluctant to buy things from vending machines :)

Inessa said...

I could buy some items from vending machine but not all. Maybe I too adventurous. Ones I rented an apartment over the phone when I got a new job and had to move 200 miles. I purchased two cars over the phone, too.

BijiBijoux said...

I think I can buy only chocolate or candy from the vending machine but not pair of shoes lol

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