Vending machines have long been considered quick, cost efficient and effective at ways to get a few small items when you need them the most. If you’re thirsty or a bit hungry during the day, a vending machine is a great way to get a quick snack in between classes, or on a short break at work. However, what if you needed larger products in the same quick fashion? What if you were trying to pull the ingredients together for a full meal and still maintain a healthy diet at the same time? One Washington DC-based company is aiming to solve all of these issues and more by using the latest and greatest that vending machine technology has to offer.

scratchDC is a company that originally became known in the Washington DC area for its meal delivery services. Owned by Ryan Hansan, the scratchDC team has made a name for itself over the last several years by dropping off pre-measured ingredients to the homes of customers in the area – allowing them to quickly get together everything they need to have a gourmet meal without leaving their home. Now, scratchDC is taking those benefits to their logical next step by way of their TinyGrocery vending machines.

As its name suggests, the TinyGrocery vending machine is a way for scratchDC to quickly get both ready-to-eat meals and dinner meal kits out to customers in the most efficient way possible. As of June 2015, there are currently 10 TinyGrocery machines located throughout Washington, DC that allow users to purchase meal kits for breakfast, lunch and dinner at a moment’s notice. scratchDC has strategically placed these vending machines in apartment complexes, office buildings and even gyms – allowing customers to both go about their normal daily obligations and still enjoy the benefits that the company is offering at the same time.

The TinyGrocery vending machine units have a built-in tablet computer that allows users to find out the price, allergens and even nutritional information for each item. All a user has to do is swipe his or her credit card to unlock the door after a purchase is made to gain access to the items they need.

One thing for sure – companies like scratchDC are pushing the envelope regarding what is expected from a traditional vending machine and exactly how you can take advantage of the format for the benefit of consumers everywhere. When you consider just how far vending machine technology has come in the last several years, it’s incredible to think about how advanced they will be five, ten or even fifteen years from now.


If you’ve ever been to a grocery store on the weekend, you’re probably familiar with the concept of free samples. Grocery store employees stand by a table, offering small sample servings of a particular product. The goal is to get you to try something you may not have in the past and to also entice you to purchase a product that was previously not on your radar. Can the same concept yield the same benefits for vending machines across the country? One Chicago-based startup recently attempted to find out and discovered something pretty incredible as a result.

The startup in question is called Freeosk and is run by a man named Matt Eichorn. Freeosk vending machines provide both food items and personal care products and currently have vending machines in roughly 650 Sam’s Club locations across the country. The vending machines dispense free samples of certain featured products to customers that they can then buy from Sam’s Club should they so choose. The experiment is already a success and has seen the purchase of those featured products increase significantly soon after the free samples are given.

As a concept, Freeosk and its free samples are creating a bit of a “win win” situation for everyone involved. In order for a brand’s product to make it into a Freeosk as one of its “featured items,” that company must pay Freeosk for the privilege. The retailer partner (in this case Sam’s Club) also benefits, because if customers like the free samples they can then go elsewhere in the store and buy more of those products in bulk.

Even the brands themselves benefit, as free samples are a great way to increase brand engagement in a very controlled environment.

According to Sam’s Club, the customers themselves are also benefiting. Not only do they get the chance to try out products that they may not have otherwise, but Sam’s Club indicates that its members love to sample new products in general. They consider it an easy and fun way to discover new items.

If you’re a vending machine owner and are looking for a way to increase full-size product purchases across the board, Freeosk and Sam’s Club have recently revealed that free samples are the way to go. With the advancements that have been made in vending machine technology in the last several years, free samples may just end up being one of the most cost-effective ways to boost revenue to come along in quite some time.


greenlite2If recent trends are to be believed, the concept of paying for goods and services in cash may be a thing of the past – at least as far as millennials are concerned. More and more young people are increasingly paying with Apple Pay and similar types of mobile payment systems that rely more on technology and less on good, old-fashioned currency.

What is Mobile Payment?

Mobile payment uses credit, debit card or bank account information tied to a user’s smartphone to allow them to use technology like near field communication to pay for goods and services at many stores. Apple Pay is perhaps the most famous mobile payment system currently in existence, which allows users to pay for items using their iPhone 6 or similar iOS 8-powered devices. It launched in October of 2014, though it has long since been joined by similar services from many leading providers.

Mobile Payment and Vending Machines

One area where mobile payments are gaining a great deal of traction has to do with vending machines. Vending machines are already designed to offer quick, convenient experiences. This experience has only been made even faster and more efficient thanks to the fact that users can pay for items in seconds using their smartphones, smart watches and similar types of devices. These types of situations also have the benefit of being safer and more secure than a vending machine with a credit card reader.


One example of a mobile payment option for vending machines in action is the GreenLite system by Vending.com. It’s a turn-key, cashless technology that is totally secure and offers management 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Built into GreenLite are a number of features that make it incredibly attractive to providers like machine sales tracking, integrated cash versus cashless reporting, alerts for the health and status of a particular machine and more.

In addition to making the vending experience more pleasing for consumers, it’s also making it easier for the vendors themselves to manage their machines and make sure that they’re performing to peak efficiency than ever before.

Keeping up with the breakneck pace of technology has long been seen as a cost of doing business in the modern world. Thanks to mobile payment technology and services like the GreenLite system from Vending.com, however, technology is actually encouraging the investment for vending machine operators and providers all over the world. In addition to turning vending machines into a more customer-centric experience, they also bring with them a host of benefits that would have been thought to be impossible just a few short years ago.

soda declineIncreasingly, consumers are turning away from carbonated beverages and sodas. According to a recent report from Cowen and Company that analyzed Nielsen xAOC sales data, sales of carbonated drinks marked a tenth straight year of declining sales in 2014.

The report explains that even though soft drink giants Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are struggling in sales, they are still posting increases in overall profits. The companies have done so by increasing prices to offset the accompanying decline in sales. This strategy resulted in a 2.5 percent increase in dollar sales for Coca-Cola amid a 3.2 percent decrease in volume. In particular, the decline in sales for Diet Coke was particularly steep with a 6.6 percent drop. During the same period, PepsiCo witnessed a 0.8 percent increase in dollar sales with declining volume.

Such a strategy is not feasible forever and declining sales are not likely to disappear anytime soon. According to a 2014 Bloomberg Business article, even Coca-Cola CEO Sandy Douglas limits himself to one sugary Coke per day. The article entitled “Coke Confronts Its Big Fat Problem,” details how sales of the beverage are declining due to “the general explosion in health consciousness that has lately put Coke on the wrong side of just about every consumer lifestyle trend.”

What are consumers turning to instead of soda? Beverages that they view as healthy such as bottled water, sports drinks, and energy drinks. These drinks have seen excellent sales and increased revenues:

  • Sales of energy drinks such as Monster and Red Bull increased an average of 11.2 percent.
  • Bottled water sales increased in volume by 6.3 percent with revenues up 7 percent.
  • Sports drinks increased volume sales by 6.5 percent.
  • Ready to drink teas increased in overall dollar sales by 9.6 percent.

These positive numbers are particularly impressive when compared to the steady long-term decline in soda sales overall.

What does this mean for vending machine owners? You may want to assess your inventory choices based on the recent sales data. Do you stock enough healthy choices in your drink vending machines? Could a few changes here and there lead to increased sales and revenues? To make the most of the trend toward health consciousness in America offering plenty of choices that include options like energy drinks, bottled water and sports drinks alongside a few soda choices might be the best blend of products to maximize your revenues.





alcohol vending machineTexas has a standing reputation for promoting and starting some of the biggest ideas in the nation. Texan ideals often have roots in business and encouraging the growth of society; however, a recent proposal to introduce alcohol vending machines, as told by Eleanor Dearman, is causing a controversy in the Lone Star State. The idea of a drink vending machine is not uncommon, but an alcoholic drink vending machine sounds difficult to control. To fully grasp how this would work and affect Texans, you must understand how the vending machines would function and how concerns over it would be addressed.

The Alcohol Vending Machine Functionality

Currently, clubs and bars check photo IDs at the door or when purchasing alcoholic beverages. In many cases, patrons are given a bracelet, which identifies minors from those above the alcohol-consuming age of 21-years-old. An alcohol vending machine would function on the premise of these bracelets. Those of legal drinking age would be given a bracelet by facility staff, which would allow them to obtain drinks from the vending machine. This ensures underage minors do not obtain alcohol from the machine. Furthermore, the machine would limit the number of drinks a person may obtain. For example, two drinks of liquor, 30-ounces of beer, or 10-ounces of wine. However, alcohol vending machines face much more criticism.

Potential Problems With an Alcohol Vending Machine

Although the facility staff will be responsible for issuing the bands allowing access to the alcohol vending machine, the problem of bracelet changing becomes an issue. What is to stop someone from obtaining a bracelet, which he or she then passes along to a minor? Immediately, this sounds like it will prevent alcohol vending machines from ever being installed. However, something similar occurs every day in alcohol-providing entities on the planet. Someone of legal drinking age could purchase a drink and provide it to a minor.

Additionally, bartenders and servers are expressing concern over the introduction of alcohol vending machines. These staff members make the majority of their living through tips, which the alcohol vending machine would essentially eliminate. Although the vending machine could not provide all of the drinks for an evening, it would cut down on the number of drinks poured by staff. Businesses face another challenge with the introduction of vending machines.

Some drinks may contain on a combination of five or more ingredients, and the alcohol vending machines do not currently have this capacity to produce such mixed drinks. Mixed drinks are extremely popular among college students, and the lack of mixed drinks could adversely affect a business’s profits for a single night of use.

As society has grown more comfortable with the idea of vending machine use across many industries, the alcohol industry stands on the edge of a new frontier. Only time will tell how the public responds to alcohol vending machines, and they may be an instant hit for those wanting a simple drink quickly. Will ordering drinks be as simple as pushing a button each time you go out in the future?




Concerns over protecting the environment and conservation efforts have grown remarkably in the past few years, and the topic of batteries remains high on this list. Unfortunately, society’s rapid reward and disposal mindset has led to a major problem concerning batteries. Batteries have the potential to decimate entire ecosystems, points out Emma Hutchings, since one tossed battery could contaminate up to 20-square-meters of soil. Fortunately, Hutchings revealed how Russia is partnering with local businesses and vending machine revolutionaries to address this problem.

Recycling Batteries Vending Machine

In Moscow, a typical battery recycling center gathers about 1,000 batteries in a single month. Once the battery recycling vending machine, which allowed users to pay for items with used batteries, had been installed, the total number of batteries collected in this area soared to more than 8,000. This equates to 160,000-square-meters of ground space protected by simply installing this Think Blue Machine.

Items in the Machine

Now, many might argue that batteries are not a viable way to pay for goods, such as foods or drinks, due to the potential for cross-contamination. However, the battery recycling vending machine isn’t primarily for these items. For example, users could pay two batteries to get a stress ball, four batteries to get a bottle of water, or six batteries for an eco-friendly t-shirt. All of the items within the Think Blue Machine are selected for their ability to encourage more people to protect the environment and stay healthy, i.e. water instead of soda.

Future of Battery Recycling

Russia is responsible for the disposal of up to 15 million batteries annually, which equates to millions of cubic miles of toxic soil in dumping grounds. Volkswagen is no stranger to the battery industry; each vehicle uses a battery for starting the engine, except in electric vehicles. While society becomes more aware of the potential hazards for not properly disposing of batteries, vending machines like the Think Blue Machine could be the solution to much more than recycling single batteries. The machine could work like an exchange; providing new batteries in exchange for 10 used batteries. Ultimately, the battery manufacturer and the recycling organization make money in this way.

Although the Think Blue Machine was designed expressly for recycling batteries and encouraging eco-friendly thoughts among industrial cities, this could prove to be a venture to use across many other landscapes. The applications for a recycling vending machine could include aluminum cans, glass, plastics, and more. The only real question that remains is how will future generations want to pay for the things they want?




Social media reaches into the homes, smartphones, tablets, and thoughts of every person daily. However, people do not usually equate social media with vending machines, yet that is exactly what is happening. Vending machine manufacturers have seen the uptick in use of social media as an opportunity to expand their current market. The social vending industry requires users to perform a given task on social media in the hopes of winning a prize.  Finding a vending machine for sale doesn’t quite describe how the masses have responded to the use of social media vending machines.

All-Star Prizes and the Cincinnati Reds

With baseball season officially in full swing, the Cincinnati Reds want to show appreciation to their fans, and a social media vending machine was an excellent option. Users would line up at the vending machine, and the machine would generate a unique Twitter hashtag for @AllStarGame. The vending machine provider would then randomly select All-Star Prizes for different people using the corresponding unique hashtag.

Fans won a variety of prizes, which included autographed baseballs by players in the Hall of Fame, former All-Stars, and current Reds players. In fact, at least one person won tickets to the iconic All-Star Game in July 2015.


New Balance’s Free T-Shirt Promotion

Another social media vending machine is spitting out free t-shirts as a promotional product for a coming New Balance store.  However, some people were skeptical as to if the machine even had any t-shirts at all. Upon reading the Instagram post of one concerned follower, New Balance Philly advised people to try to get to the machine early since it is refilled every morning.

In addition to a free shirt, the Philly New Balance machine promises to send out a gift card, valued between $10 and $500, to anyone who happens to score one of the free shirts. The shirts boast white lettering among a red background, and #LoveNBPhilly sends out the message of hitting up the vending machine.

new-balance philly

More businesses are looking to increase their profits, and the vast inter-connectedness of social media offers an excellent outlet for combining vending machines and social media. By promoting events, products or services, a vending machine manufacturer can enhance an organization’s image without expensive marketing campaigns. Candy bars and sodas won’t be the only things in a vending machine for sale anymore; the selections will be amazing prizes, free gifts, and opportunities for once-in-a-lifetime events.



ammo-vending-machineGun rights’ activists and gun lobbyists never dreamed of anything as unique as what Beaver Valley Rifle & Pistol Club is currently offering. A vending machine within the club is selling non-jacketed ammunition for both rifles and handguns. However, many people have voiced concerns over how the machine operates and the ethics behind the use of the machine.

Reasoning Behind the Vending Machine

The Beaver Valley Rifle & Pistol Club decided to employ the use of the vending machine as a solution for obtaining non-jacketed ammunition for use in the club’s pistols. In most markets, ammunition is sold within sleeves, or jackets, for use in automatic rifles. According to Sam Piccinini, owner of Master Ammo Company and Republican Candidate for Sheriff, the vending machine helps prevent two key issues with the use of jacketed ammunition. Since the lead in jacketed ammunition can separate from the jacket upon hitting the range’s backstops, it causes premature wear on the range’s backstops. Furthermore, the jacket could rebound off the backstop and potentially hurt users of the gun range.

Limited Access to the Gun Ammunition Vending Machine

According to the Beaver Valley Rifle & Pistol Club, the machine is only available to members of the club.  Individuals of at least 18 years-old are able to apply for  junior membership. Junior members are supervised by an adult sponsor at the club at all times. Each adult club member is given a digital swipe card, which grants access to the club’s indoor shooting ranges in 24 hour periods, but the machine only sells ammunition to members above age 21. Now, some people may be concerned about if the installation of the vending machine is legal and if club members actually want to use it.

Legal Vending Machine for Sale of Ammo

Piccinini maintains a Type 6 Federal Firearms License, which grants him the authority to manufacture and sell ammunition. Club members were having a difficult time finding a permanent supplier of non-jacketed ammunition, so Piccinini created the vending machine for this express purpose. Businesses traditionally receive some sort of financial gain from allowing a vending machine manufacturer to sell products on-site, which may be through rent, commissions, or other fees. However,  the Beaver Valley Rifle & Pistol Club does not have any financial investment in the vending machine, so the club is exempted from any potential liability arising from use of the machine.

Businesses are always looking for ways to increase revenue and provide an enjoyable, useful environment for customers. Vending machines for sale of goods, even ammo, are driven by the decisions and needs of both business owners and customers. In this case, members of the Beaver Valley Rifle & Pistol Club approved the installation of the vending machine, and it’s operation has improved the safety of patrons while providing a service. Vending machine manufacturers are no longer resigned to the typical beverage and food items of the past.

farmersfridgeMid-afternoon hunger pains? Mid-morning snack attack? Forgot your lunch? Imagine walking up to a vending machine during a quick work break, swiping your credit card, and getting a fresh salad for lunch.  For those seeking healthy vending machine options, the wait may be over. Chicago’s Farmer’s Fridge is hoping to make fresh food a reality throughout the Windy City.

Don’t think of Farmer’s Fridge as an ordinary snack vending machine. You won’t find any packaged snacks here. According to its website, it’s really a veggie vending machine. Founder Luke Sanders stresses the importance of freshness in his machine’s products.

Starting with salads and products that are made by hand each morning after the daily 5 AM delivery of vegetables and packaged in special glass jars, the salads are taken to Farmer’s Fridge vending machines where they will be offered for sale. At 6 PM each evening, the products at Farmer’s Fridge are discounted by $1.00. When the next day’s delivery arrives, employees remove unsold products from the previous day, stocking the machine entirely with new product. Unsold product are donated to area homeless shelters.

These incredible products include a menu worthy of your favorite neighborhood eatery with salads, breakfast items, and protein pick me ups. For example,

  • Antioxidant Salad featuring mixed greens, goat cheese, mixed berries, almonds, carrot, sprouts and flaxseed with a balsamic vinaigrette
  • Detox Salad with organic kale, organic quinoa, sprouts, fennel, pineapple, blueberries, white beans and cider vinegar lemon dressing.
  • Greek Yogurt and Berries
  • Sliced apples with local honey and almond butter
  • Vegetable strips with hummus
  • Cauliflower Fried Rice with cauliflower, local peas, carrot, garlic and egg whites

Even the appearance of the Farmer’s Fridge vending machine is out of the ordinary. Saunders worked with a vending machine manufacturer to make his unique vision a reality. He envisioned a kiosk with sustainably sourced salads, environmentally responsible containers, and all at a reasonable cost. His machines are made from reclaimed wood, accepts all major credit cards, can email receipts, and features power consumption of less than $25 per month.

Saunders credits improvements in technology such as touch screens and less expensive credit card processing to his success. His company makes use of free technology like Google Docs to track recipes and inventory. Saunders also credits the city of Chicago for less expensive startup costs compared to other cities. For example the cost of the shared kitchen space his employees use daily to prepare product is about one-fifth of what it would be in New York City.

The ability to offer his products in an automated kiosk appealed to Saunders. While he estimates that his labor costs are very similar to those of a brick and mortar restaurants, the flexibility offered by a vending machine played a key factor in his decision. Given that vending machines are everywhere, having healthy options is a must for new players with ideas for a snack or drink vending machine.  Having expanded from three to 14 machines throughout Chicago in a single year, Saunders is proof that fresh sells.

cashless vending

Organizations all over the world have long been looking for new and unique ways to innovate with regards to the types of vending machine products that they rely heavily on daily. When these types of machines are available in many public places wherever you go, it can be difficult for a vending machine manufacturer to really stand out in a crowd. One of the major innovations of the last decade was a machine that accepted credit and debit cards in addition to cash. Now, many companies are moving towards the idea of completely cashless vending for the benefit of consumers everywhere.

What is Cashless Vending?

Thought it may be logical to assume that cashless vending is “just” a vending machine that also takes credit or debit cards, this isn’t entirely accurate. A true cashless vending solution will also accept the types of mobile payment systems that customers are embracing today, like Apple Pay and similar services. Users can swipe their smartphone near an NFC reader located on the machine itself to automatically deduct money from an associated account. This makes the entire vending process easier and more secure than it has ever been.

Greenlite by Vending.com

greeliteOne bold example of this type of technology at work is the new Greenlite system by Vending.com. It’s a turn-key cashless solution that relies instead on the latest card and mobile payment systems, along with the type of web-based reporting and management tools that allow businesses to increase their return on investment in a very significant way.

One of the biggest advantages of the Greenlite system has to do with the type of machine sales tracking that it offers businesses. In the “old days” of vending machines, you essentially had to use your best judgment regarding which types of products you should be ordering and in what quantities. With machine sales tracking, you now have actionable, real-time information regarding trends, likes and dislikes that are all derived from actual consumer behavior. You can not only tell what products are selling but how quickly and at what times of the day. Businesses no longer have to rely solely on “instinct’ when it comes to making purchasing decisions – they now have actual hard data that they can use instead.

Greenlite also allows businesses to integrate two-tier pricing depending on location. A business might offer a discount on certain items for people who choose to pay with cash, for example. The system also includes helpful alerts that will provide constant updates on the health and status of the machine in question, making it easier to identify when repairs are necessary and when replacement parts need to be ordered.