What Will the Future of Self-Service Vending Machine Industry Be Like?

With the development of the new retail industry, we often see self-service vending machines such as automatic juice squeezers, snack vending machines, beverage vending machines, box lunch vending machines, automatic milk vending machines, and many more. New self-service vending machines like freshly ground coffee vending machines and ice cream unmanned vending machines have also emerged.

Development of self-service vending machine industry

In fact, with the upgrade of consumption and changes in consumption patterns, this self-service vending industry has ushered in a spring of development. People's demand for convenience is increasing, and food, potato chips, laundry detergent, fresh flowers, and more can all be found in self-service vending machines. This is not only a gospel for people's convenient life, but also a new revelation for the future development of the industry.

For self-service vending machines, I believe that many people are not unfamiliar with them. In recent years, self-service vending machines that sell beverages, snacks, and other goods have emerged in various places where there are dense crowds, such as shopping malls, subway stations, airports, high-speed rail stations, and office buildings.

However, perhaps many people may have such a thought: when passing by these vending machines in normal times, they did not see many people using these machines to buy things and feel that automatic vending machines are not doing good business in China. But with the recent popularity of new-generation self-service vending machines such as self-service coffee machines and self-service juice machines, the self-service vending machine industry seems to have ushered in a "spring."

Self-service vending machines are still in their infancy in China

In recent years, self-service vending machines are not a new thing in China. As early as around 2000, the first batch of self-service vending machines appeared in China, but their development was very slow during the previous decade. According to data from the China Chain Store & Franchise Association, there were about 390,000 self-service vending machines in China by the end of 2018.

From a global perspective, self-service vending machines appeared earlier. After the United States developed the first self-service vending machine for selling cigarettes in 1925, self-service vending machines for selling postage stamps, tickets, beverages, snacks, and other goods also emerged one after another and expanded globally. The United States and Japan are among the countries where self-service vending machines are most widely used.

According to statistics from 2010, there were approximately 5.08 million self-service vending machines in Japan, corresponding to one machine for every 23 people on average, and self-service vending machines generated sales of approximately 5 trillion yen (about 300 billion RMB).

From the earlier cigarette vending machines, their functions and product types have been continuously improved. In addition to common drinks, potato chips, and cigarettes, self-service vending machines also offer services such as exchanging small change, renting video tapes, and selling newspapers and cutlery, and are known as "24-hour micro supermarkets."

However, after self-service vending machines debuted in China, they did not receive good market feedback. Various operational risks hidden in the self-service vending machine system, immature payment models, single product types, unreasonable prices (slightly higher than convenience stores), and single coin payment methods made Chinese consumers not optimistic about this market. Therefore, the self-service vending machine, which was once known as the "24-hour automatic money-making business" overseas, had a cold reception in China.

Compared with the millions of self-service vending machines in other countries, the quantity of machines in China is only a few hundred thousand, indicating that China's self-service vending machine market is still in its infancy. This stagnant market development environment did not improve until 2013.

With the development and popularity of mobile payment technology in recent years and changes in consumer habits, the self-service vending machine industry in China has gradually begun to rise. Both the number of machines and the market size are gradually expanding. Finally, they are no longer just "decorations" in street corners.


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