Most Profitable Vending Machines – Small Business Trends

A vending machine business appeals to anyone seeking a straightforward opportunity that doesn’t require special skills or training. You can operate such a business on a part-time or full-time basis. And involving more people including family member makes it even easier to manage.

Options abound for vending machine franchises. But consider all the specialist machines out there such as those laundry detergent dispensers that you see in laundromats. Think about vending machines selling stationary supplies at schools. Or think of one selling toiletries and other items travelers often forget in hotels. And you see coffee machines just about everywhere.

Such specialist machines require the perfect combination of demand and location. But other machines cater to more mainstream demands. And these offer the potential to earn their owners serious money.

Vending Machine Profit Statistics

You won’t likely see a single vending machine producing life-changing profits. But a few well-placed machines can offer a good revenue stream. reports the average person spends around $27 per year on products from vending machines. And the average transaction costs $1.71.

One vending machine produces on average a total of $76 of revenue each week for whoever owns and operates the machine. That amounts to over $300 per month. So you can see how several machines producing an average start bringing in nice profits.

Vending machine spending across the U.S. on the whole remains strong. Annual total spend tops $7 billion. Though pressure in the industry continues over calls to supply healthier snack and drink options. Some might believe such items less popular than junk food items. But figures show the sale of healthy snack items significantly outpacing junk food.

Top 4 Most Profitable Vending Machines

Branded Sodas

Soda dispensing machines remain most popular among vending machines. And during warmer weather demand for chilled drinks peaks. The machines themselves appear similar to the glass-fronted snack machines described below. But more often specialist soda machines come completely covered. And drink options appear on buttons customers press to select them. Also the machines will often be branded with the images and names of the popular soda brands they stock.

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The range of sodas is a lot smaller in comparison to snacks, so it is much easier for a vending machine franchise owner to keep their item selection minimal. There are a few umbrella companies that own multiple soda brands and these will usually be grouped together accordingly. Such machines are unlikely to offer both Pepsi and Coca-Cola for example. Size options include cans as well as 12oz and 20oz bottles.

Snacks – Glass Front with Coil System

While profitability of any vending machine has a lot to do with its positioning, there is no doubt that one of the most popular types of machines are those that dispense snacks. The items that prove to be the most popular can vary across different States, but there are also plenty of examples that are popular pretty much everywhere.

Chocolate bars such as Snickers, Twix and Baby Ruth, as well as chips like Doritos, Cheetos and Lays, are all the main staples of such machines. Other popular snacks in these machines include the likes of Rice Crispy Treats, Grandma’s Cookies, Granola Bars, Beef Jerky and Pretzels.

The glass front of this type of machine allows the products themselves to act as their own advertisement, meaning there is no need to brand the machine itself. This lets the vendor easily change the items for sale. The snacks are arranged in either a single or double coil system, which rotates on its axis to move each item along a single place when a customer selects it, with the one at the front dropping down into the collection area.

Cold Food – Refrigerated Turret-Style

Refrigerated vending machines enable the sale of cold food such as salads, sandwiches and burritos, breakfast items or even complete meals. A lot of the food in such machines will be ready to eat or require reheating, and there will often be frozen food available too.

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This tactic of having some cold and some frozen food means there is fresh food to be bought (which is more popular) but the vendor need not invest too much in items that have a short shelf life. Should the fresh food run out then there is still frozen items to sell.

The turret-style vending machines feature a display unit inside the machine that can be turned by the customer so they can view all of the available items. This type of machine works well with cold food items as it is a more personable experience for the customer as they select their meal.

Ice – Freestanding

The success of an ice vending machine depends entirely on its location. It must be in a high traffic area such as next to a convenience store or a gas station, and if you do manage to secure a good location then the rest is pretty easy.

There’s no worrying about which products will sell better than others, ice doesn’t have a sell-by date and lots of people bulk-buy it for parties and vacations or just to fill up a cooler of the stuff for home use. Summer is obviously the boom time but ice remains in demand all year round.

Despite the need for constant refrigeration, it is not actually very expensive to maintain an operational ice vending machine. Utility costs obviously vary from place to place, but a very rough guide to the water and electricity costs will be something along the lines of $0.25 per 100lbs of ice. Obviously a lot more research will be required before deciding if ice is the right vending product for you. The cost of such machines can vary greatly, though there may be the option of buying second hand to reduce initial costs.


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