Vending machines have been around for longer than you might imagine. The first modern vending machines were invented by Percival Everitt in the early 1880s. Developed in London, they primarily dispensed postcards, and soon became commonplace across railway stations and post offices throughout the UK.
You have to go even further back, however, to find the first example of any machine dispensing items in exchange for money. Reference to such a machine is found in the work of Hero of Alexandria, an engineer and mathematician in first-century Roman Egypt, whose own invention accepted coins, which would trigger a lever and value mechanism, before dispensing holy water.
Hero was undoubtedly ahead of his time, but the vending machines of today are a different beast from their Roman ancestor. The most ubiquitous of these are snack food vending machines, which offer a convenient way to satisfy hunger quickly and easily, but there are countless others, including ticket machines, change machines, and those that dispense newspapers, gumballs, or cigarettes. In total, the global vending machine market was valued at $18.28 billion in 2019, a figure that’s expected to hit more than $25 billion by 2027.
Among the most trusted sources within the industry is Vendors Exchange (VE). In operation since 1959, the company stands as a market leader in high-quality, value-based solutions for the vending industry, ranging from remanufactured vending equipment to replacement parts, graphics to electronic repair. The company sells, services, and repairs a range of machine types, including coffee vending machines, combination vending machines, condiment stands, frozen treat vending machines, microwaves, and smart vending machines.
But breadth of service only gets you so far in an industry that’s rapidly evolving, driven largely by emerging consumer demand for a range of new features, from cashless payments, nutritional information, ease of use, and an interactive buying experience, to fresher food, or even contemporary design. The crux of VE’s longstanding success, therefore, is the company’s emphasis on building and creating innovative ideas to solve the vending industry’s needs.
The most recent example of VE’s innovative streak is the Café CURVE, a coffee machine fit for the 21st century, complete with a 21-inch touchscreen. Attractive and easy to use, the CURVE not only offers easy ordering, but also allows customers to customize the drink of their choice and select from a variety of cup sizes, flavors, and condiments. For owners, the CURVE enables control of recipes to ensure only the best drinks, tailored to preference. Crucially, it fulfils a longstanding need for an improved and simplified full size coffee machine. By successfully appealing to these needs, consumers not only take more enjoyment from the buying experience, but they also spend more – delivering direct benefits for owners.
CURVE isn’t the only new idea to emerge out of VE, however. Brimming with ideas, the company has released a range of products in recent years, including 7th Tray, a tool that replaces vendors’ gum and mint trays with full-sized products, thereby increasing profits. The VE Kiosk, meanwhile, is a self-service vending machine, allowing consumers to walk up, scan their snacks, and purchase directly from the interactive kiosk, saving them the hassle of waiting in line. A bridge of sorts between traditional vending machines and full kiosk ordering, the VE Kiosk gives consumers a broader variety of snacks, without sacrificing convenience. As ever, customers purchasing from VE benefit from the advice and expertise of the company’s staff, who are on-hand to assist with queries relating to parts, equipment, and service.
All VE customers also have the opportunity to take advantage of Vendarmour, VE’s own specialized laminate. At six-times the thickness of other products, the Vendarmour product promises to transform a simple vending machine into a vibrant and engaging branded space. In delivering Vendarmour, the VE team collaborates with its customers to incorporate school, team, or company logos, along with themed colors and any other desired images or pictures. In doing so, VE’s aim is to elevate the consumer’s buying experience. Vendarmour is applied either at the point of order, or the wrap is shipped directly to the customer for easy self-application. Once applied, the technology protects against rips and tears.
Yet, however advanced the technology or robust the mechanism, it remains the case that every vending machine will need repair from time to time. Accordingly, VE’s machine parts and repair service is a crucial element within its consumer offering. As an MEI Certified Service Center, the company’s certified electronic repair department provides repairs for almost any model of coin mech, bill validator, credit card reader, or control board.
Likewise, the company offers an extensive supply of vending machine parts, equipping customers with everything they need to get broken machines up and running quickly, and to maximize returns. In order to improve the customer experience around buying parts, the company has also taken significant steps to categorize its inventory by part type and manufacturer, with the full list available through the VE website. At the level of individual products, the company also prides itself on offering reasonable prices, surpassing its competitors in value for money.