We’ve had to adapt to different ways of doing things while dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. From working at home and social distancing to wearing masks and sanitising or washing our hands every five minutes, it’s been a difficult two years that has seen many of our favourite activities postponed and cancelled to keep ourselves, our families and our friends safe.

In some cases, as the virus becomes endemic and something we start to deal with as part of our lives and without special measures, we’ll just switch back to how things were. Masks are unlikely to survive very long – despite the fact that they also prevent the spread of other potentially deadly bugs and viruses – and many of us are already enjoying getting up close and personal with strangers again at football matches, nightclubs, gigs and festivals.

However, some things will have changed forever. Having discovered the benefits and flexibility that working from home brings, people are definitely showing considerable reluctance towards enduring the commute five days a week by returning full time to the office.

But where, you might be wondering, do vending machines fit into all this?

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Vending machines and the pandemic

It may not have been commented on as much as some aspects of the pandemic, but vending machines have seen something of a comeback over the last two years. And when you stop and think about it, it makes sense. 

After all, if shops are closed but you still want to keep selling goods, how else can you do it? Many businesses turned to home deliveries or using courier companies, but that can add considerable costs to the seller and/or the consumer, and not everything has the kind of value that would make such a model viable.

Vending machines allow goods to be bought and sold without the need for close interaction with others, and as remote or contactless operation and payment becomes an ever more common feature, worries regarding hygiene also become secondary.

We’ve previously discussed how personal protective equipment (PPE) has become available in vending machines, but you may be surprised to find that it’s less of an outlier in this regard than you might think. These days, everything from pizza and t-shirts to milk and fishing bait can be bought from a vending machine.

But will all this change as normal shopping habits resume?

 

The rise of the mini vending machine

We see no reason for the use of vending machines to do anything other than continue to rise. For starters, they’re so convenient – for everyone! 

As long as the machine isn’t somewhere that’s locked up at night, it opens the possibility of 24-hour buying and selling, giving the customer the flexibility to buy whenever they want or are able to do so. Meanwhile, the seller can keep on making money without the need for paying someone wages to look after a store for what would likely be only the occasional customer.

One phenomenon we can also expect to see more of is the mini vending machine. As the name suggests, these are much smaller than those we are used to seeing in our staff canteens, schools and leisure centres. 

For small traders selling goods that can be easily dispensed from a machine, it may prove to be a more economic way of reaching more people. If you place your mini vending machine somewhere, you should only be paying a relatively small amount to rent the space – definitely less than you would have to pay to lease a shop, and without many of the overheads as well. 

In fact, a few smartly placed machines across town would probably still cost less than running a shop, but could be reaching considerably more potential customers. Put a few machines from different traders selling diverse products together in one spot and you could instantly create a 24-hour mini market.

This very model has been established in Portland, Oregon, where you can buy things like cakes and macaroons, fresh eggs and toilet paper, all at any time of the day and all with contactless payment. One trader has reported bigger profits than she had made when running a more traditional shop. 

Whether this idea catches on in the UK we can’t yet say, but it certainly seems like a creative and imaginative approach to dealing with the challenges of modern retail.

Nu Vending is a leading provider of vending machines, coffee machines, water dispensers and a host of other vending solutions to businesses and other organisations across London and the South. 

Contact us today for more information.