The birth of the vending machine,can be dated back to 1898, when passengers mounting the stairs to board New York’s elevated trains first saw Tutti Frutti gum machines on the platforms. The Pan American Exposition in 1901 introduced bulk vending machines that sold a measured amount of peanuts for a penny. In 1902, in Philadelphia, the Horn & Hardart Baking Company opened the first Automat. In 1908, the Public Cup Vendor Company of New York (later Dixie Cup) introduced a machine that dispensed water in paper cups.
Prior to the 1920s, marketers of vending machines and the products they vended were the same. The industry bifurcated into two – the manufacturers of consumables and the vending machine manufacturers/operators with the introduction of machines that sold multiple kinds of products— lighter fluid and packaged candy in the same machine, or several types of candy. Three types of cigarette machines, were also introduced about the same time.
In the decade after World War II, many small companies entered the industry with many design improvements. Coin mechanisms in particular became more sophisticated. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, machines with electromechanical units began to appear.
The 1960s is regarded as the golden age of the vending machine industry. Vending machines were a staple of the American workplace, as the vending industry hugely benefited from a booming industrial sector. During this period, prices were stable, and most products could be purchased with just a single coin.
The economic climate of the following decade was less hospitable though. The inflation of the 1970s made vending machines inconvenient, as there was a shrinkage in the manufacturing labor force where a large proportion of vending machine consumers were found. However, the product mix changed during this period, as bagged snacks began to grow in popularity at the expense of candy. The helical-feed glass-front candy/snack machine, which subsequently became the industry standard, also was introduced in the 1970s.
The spread of microprocessors has since transformed the design and function of vending machines. Microprocessors made it much easier to design machines that offered multiple prices and an ever-widening product selection, expanding to include a wide variety of snacks, frozen foods, microwavable food, diet and low-fat foods, and healthy foods such as yogurt.
The history of vending machine market has been quite interesting and so seems the future. The ongoing technological revolution in the vending industry in the US, is expected to have a promising impact on the vending machine market growth. The implementation ofcloud infrastructure and RFID, in vending systems have enabled the tracking and monitoring of inventory for the prevention of fraudulent activities such astheft and misuse. Furthermore, these technologies provide electronic records of the inventory status and analysis tools to offer insights to the customer for effective inventory management. The technologies further offer real-time visibility of inventory to ensure that products such as manufacturing equipment and tools are not misplaced and are readily available.
The industry is expected to gain traction owing to the growing adoption of these products by small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The availability of these products on a rental basis has enabled SMEs to purchase them at a minimal cost.
Industrial vending machines can be optimized as per the production of the company to ensure the availability of the right tools and spare parts. Furthermore, increasing adoption of industrial vending machines by small and medium specialty manufacturing units is expected to drive the industrial vending machine market in the coming years. However, high cost of industrial vending machines poses a challenge for several companies, particularly small-scale companies. As the market matures over time, the high cost of industrial vending machines is anticipated to be absorbed by the rental revenue model.