Smart Vending

I suppose there are a few people who wonder why I find vending machines interesting and blog about them. I’ll try to keep this short and to the point:

1) Vending machines can fabricate an item on demand. Example: the Pouchlink system (reLink)

2) Vending machines can be significant point-of-sale locations. Example: Automated C-Stores (reLink)

3) Vending machines can sell “niche” products. Example: the Art-o-mat (reLink)

4) Vending machine marketing is stuck in the Dark Ages and there is room for innovation. Example: the MobVend (reLink)

5) Virtual vending machines offer brands of all sizes a myriad of opportunities; from brand marketing to research and development. Example: VirtualThirst (reLink)

6) Virtual vending machines allow consumers to customize products and lets vendors collect data on consumer preferences. Example: Reebok in Second Life (reLink)

7) Virtual vending machines could provide consumer data to real product customization and ordering websites. Example: Nike iD/NBA2k6 (reLink), and Dell in Second Life (reLink)

8) Vending machines are an excellent kind of “smart appliance” which can connect with users in a variety of ways. Example: A report today over on C|Net, “Machines give kids lessons in food, finance” (Link)

Hopefully that collection of links explains why a product design/virtual world blog takes an interest in the generally overlooked vending machine. If there’s an area that’s ripe for growth, that one is a good candidate imo. I can imagine all sorts of possibilities. Unfortunately, this latest news under #8 will include fewer opportunities for people like Adam Sandler to write songs about lunch ladies.

(Related post discussing a larger system of which these could be a part – reLink.)

2 thoughts on “Smart Vending

  1. I find this idea interesting. Never looked at Vending that way. Innovation in Vending is much needed I think.

  2. I suspect innovation will find its way into these devices. The opportunity is too compelling imo.

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