How the intelligent vending machine market is impacting the retail landscape

Intelligent vending machine industry

In this digital age characterized by vendors constantly searching for new ways to enhance customer experience, the intelligent vending machine market has emerged as one of the most rapidly progressive business verticals. With robust advancements in internet and digitization trends, vending machines have emerged as a convenient and low-cost option, reducing an entire store space into refrigerator-sized machines dispensing products in exchange for money.

Clearly, over the last couple of years, the conventional vending machine has undergone a paradigm shift with Artificial Intelligence and sensor-based technologies now changing the way tech-savvy consumers are paying and purchasing.

Current Trends of the Global Intelligent Vending Machine Industry

Recently, the renowned beverage brand PepsiCo made headlines for partnering with Roby technologies to develop self-driving vending machine called a Snackbot. The machine delivers beverages and snacks from Hello Goodness, developed and curated by PepsiCo, which includes better-for-you products including Pure Leaf Iced Tea, Starbucks Cold Brew, LIFEWTR, Bubly, Baked Lay’s, Smartfood Delight, and SunChips. If reports are to be believed, PepsiCo is using AI to send the bot to more than 50 designated areas across the 175-acre campus of the University of the Pacific.

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Needless to say, PepsiCo is not the only company in the food & beverage industry that is leveraging AI to advance its vending business. Coca-Cola China has also launched an intelligent vending machine that uses sound interaction and facial recognition to provide customers with a more interactive experience.

Wheelys, a Sweden-based startup, has also designed a 24-hour mobile vending machine store in China to offer direct customer deliveries.

These instances clearly represent a growing market for smart beverage dispensing machines, which in turn is allowing intelligent vending machine industry players to explore uncharted territories.

Market Growth due to Massive Sales in the Drink Industry

As per reliable reports, the massive rise in consumption of a variety of beverages including juices, energy drinks, cold drinks, and alcohol, have significantly impacted the sales and demand for vending machines. The beverage-based intelligence vending machine market is expected to register a CAGR of 16 percent over 2018-2024.

Besides beverages, leading intelligent vending machine industry players are introducing smart machines for a range of products including personal care, beauty & pharma items, computer accessories, electronics, and even cars in locations beyond brick-and-mortar stores.

Recently, for instance, U.S. carmaker Ford and China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba Group unveiled a five-storied tall vending machine in Guangzhou. Both companies have inked a collaboration partnership of three years that will allow Ford to implement new retail opportunities, test drives, and other leasing options.

Greenbox Robotics, a southern California company has also unveiled smart marijuana vending machines for customers to pick cannabis flower, CBD products, edibles, extracts, and other accessories. The machine describes each product and its effects on customers while allowing for cashless transactions via Apple Pay or debit card.

China Emerges as Major Revenue Pocket

Currently, sales of vending machines in China only account for a very small percentage in the retail market, which underlines the fact that there is an enormous scope of investment for potential stakeholders. However, with rapid progress in the regional retail sector to automate and incorporate high-value customer experience, China’s intelligent vending machine market is expected to foster exponential growth in the ensuing years.

Another major driver behind the impressive proliferation of vending machines in China is the fast, click-and-collect experience these machines are offering to customers. Beijing Ubox Online Technology, one of the leading manufacturers and operators of intelligent vending machines in China, reportedly operates more than 60,000 vending units across the country (as of 2015) and is planning to increase its vending units in operation to 500,000 by 2020. This statistic validates that sales made through vending machines have increased remarkably and can be attributed to the improving standard of living and development of economic growth.

China’s Exponential Intelligent Vending Machine Growth

China had around 150,000 vending machines as of 2015—fifteen times more than that of 2011. Analysts claim that if the market keeps growing at this rate, China is set to show great promise and be a lucrative investment hotspot for global intelligent vending machine industry players.

Furthermore, rapid innovations and increasing prevalence of IoT (Internet of Things) technologies are expected to help vending machine operators in managing operations in real-time, including inventory and distribution of goods. Players operating in the global intelligent vending machine market are further expected to develop these machines with eco-friendly and recycling technologies to cut on plastic usage. Some major vendors, including Coca-Cola, have already invested in developing vending machines that reduce energy bills. Given the rising concerns over reducing carbon footprints and other environmental impacts, this is a welcome step in the evolution of the industry.

These platforms are not only set to offer endless opportunities for industry players to maximize productivity and profitability, but they also will fuel the overall commercialization potential of the intelligent vending machine market on a global scale.