Snacks at the railway station, passport photos at the airport or cigarettes around the corner – vending machines are in many locations. They offer their products around-the-clock and without the usual opening hours. Public vending, the sale of goods from publicly available vending machines is a market with a lot of potential.
Most of the time, you can buy goods, snacks or beverages at the vending machine for little money, but it does not have to be that way. You can also buy gold at the vending machine. ”Gold to go“ is the name of the product by the young German company Ex Oriente Lux AG from Reutlingen. Right now, the company has 23 gold vending machines in Germany and 13 abroad, four of which are located in the United Arab Emirates and one in Las Vegas. You pay by credit card. The distributive channels of the precious metals trader that also buys gold and stores it for customers, are the Internet, brokers and the gold ATMs where you can purchase gold in the form of bars and coins of certified quality just like you would buy a packet of cigarettes.
”The primarily envisioned target audience of gift and souvenir shoppers has now been extended by an increasing number of small investors“, the company says. ”Compared to many banks, the vending machine offers immediate availability. The pricing is updated in real time and is generally lower than what the banks charge. For amounts below the limits of the Money Laundering Control Act, the gold vending machine facilitates an anonymous purchase and offers a maximum amount of discretion.“
Being well stocked guarantees availability
Shopping around-the-clock, anonymously and at great prices – something all automated teller machine operators promise. They can only dream about online connectivity for their equipment. Primarily those customers, who did not receive their goods or have trouble with the coin slots, report failures. They angrily call up the service phone number listed on the machines. Since the advent of cell phones, this is easier than it used to be. The operators contract vending machine servicers; so the failure rate significantly depends on them. If they work meticulously, always refill change and sort the items in the correct compartments, there are fewer phone calls. In contrast, technical defects or vandalism is less frequently the cause of troubles.
Interview with Juan Luis Ayo, Sales and Marketing Manager Azkoyen
In the last 15 years the German division of Azkoyen has been successful through the market for cigarette vending machines. However, with the current anti-smoking legislation taking hold revenue has taken a hit. To counter these trends Azkoyen has broadened its range with new vending systems, for example, with machines dispensing hot beverages. This spring, for the first time, the company was an exhibitor at the EuroCIS where they displayed new vending systems. These systems dispense product that has already been selected in the shop and purchased at the register. They have been operating in Sweden and are now ready for launch in the broader Eruopean market.
You decided to participate in the EuroCIS this year rather last minute. What led to this late decision?
In the last two years Azkoyen was developing a retail line, already tested in Sweden since October last year. As we met more and more companies interested in our solution, we decided the market was ready to show the units at EuroCIS.
Was it worth the trip?
Yes, it was very interesting, not only as far as Germany is concerned but for some other countries where these solutions are in demand. In Germany we have three channels where we are actively engaged: tobacco operators, supermarkets and gas stations.
Azkoyen produces cigarette vending machines. Are you broadening your portfolio?
Azkoyen is a general vending machines manufacturer though traditionally specialized in tobacco vending units. Our retail units are not only for tobacco but for any kind of products with or without cooling needs. The tobacco vending business, due to the laws, is changing very quickly. Azkoyen develops machines that can be used with advertising today, at least in Germany. In foreign markets it is not as easy to use the faces for advertising even when the product is in the actual vending machine.
Your competition, Vensafe was not at the EuroCIS this year. What sets you apart from the Norwegian company?
Vensafe has been in the market about 10 years longer than we have. We are now starting launching our product range where the customer receives merchandise that has been paid for at the checkout with a ticket received by the cashier. We have vast experience in the production of the varying vending solutions, dispensing a broad range of products. The hardware and software are made by Azkoyen. The basis of our retail units is our range of snack vending machines.
Interview with Michael Greschniok, Press Officer for Deutsche Bahn AG (German Railways), Department Passenger Stations
German Railways (DB) has 5,700 passenger stations. With 3,500 vending machines, it is the most important German partner for operators of snack and soda vending machines. At the large railway stations, they complement the product range of stores – even after closing time. German Railways asks the operators to also equip smaller railway stations that do not have a shop, with vending machines.
What significance do vending machines have for snacks, drinks or photos at your railway stations?
The vending machines provide merchandise and services around-the-clock at attractive prices and of high quality. In doing so, they ideally complement the range of products at the railway station. Currently, around 3,500 snack and soda vending machines as well as about 500 photo booths are being operated in our transport depots.
You issue an invitation to tender for vending machines on a regular basis. What requirements do the operators have to fulfill?
The operators should be able to manage the railway challenge with all its facets. This includes a very good credit rating for example, the willingness to install modern vending machines including further development of technology – for instance banknote acceptors or the changeover to cashless payment options – the continued availability of all items in service and quick repairing of defects. The size of the railway station is of lesser importance, what is crucial is the potential at the respective location.