Introduction to Vending Machines

You would have surely noticed the vending machines prominently displayed in public places, like hospitals, courthouses, railway stations, airports, gas stations and even certain local stores. These machines are designed to work on the insertion of coins to give out tea, coffee, cold drinks, snack and sandwiches etc. The most suited locations for such machines are places where people congregate, wait or just pass by.

Keeping the machines functioning and stocked with various items is the responsibility of the merchants who set up the machines. As part of the revenue collected by the merchant is paid to the proprietor of the property where the vending machine is installed, you can see that it benefits all the parties involved, the vendor, consumer and the property owner.

An important benefit of such machines is that consumers can get many eatables and other products at anytime of the day or night. However, many are not happy with the contribution made by these machines. A number of schools in the US, having provided these machines at their premises, were criticized for offering to young students foods and drinks that are known to have high sugar content and low nutritional value. These contents are reportedly responsible for causing quite a few medical disorders like diabetes and obesity. Consequently, many schools changed over to offering healthier foods.

At one time, vending machines were frequently used for selling cigarettes, though these are not so common now due to the apprehension of getting patronized by underage consumers. However, some machines are meant to verify the age of consumer by swiping the credit card. One can also find photo booths working as vending machines, often installed at public restrooms for the dispersal of condoms and other items of personal hygiene.

Franchise Direct estimates that vending machines in the US annually collect cash worth $22 billion. Considering the number of vending machine in operation to be seven million, the average output per machine comes to over three thousand dollars. However, the output of a machine could vary a bit, depending on various factors.


This is the most significant of all factors. High traffic areas like malls, movie theaters, hotels and hospitals etc are known to offer big revenues, but the profits from low traffic areas are not very large. Coin machines serving drinks in areas that attract high volume of traffic are known to fetch as much as $250 per day, while the corresponding figure for machines disbursing snacks comes to $500 for one day.

Initial expenses

The initial expenses for getting started would depend on the capacity of the machine, plus the number of vending machines to be installed. Apart from paying income tax on your earnings, you’ll also need to compensate the owner of the premises where you install the machine.

Running expenses

After the machine gets installed, you need to spend time and money for buying the items that you may be selling to keep the machine stocked all the time. Since companies selling snacks are already advertising their products, you won’t incur any expense on that account.

It may surprise many to know that the credit for inventing the vending machine goes to Hero of Alexandria, circa 215 BC. The machine was designed to distribute holy water on the insertion of coins.

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