8 Unique Vending Items around the World

People often think of vending machines to grab a quick snack or drink, but there are vending machines around the world that offer very unique items:

  • Live crabs – If you’re in China, you can grab a live crab from a vending machine. How crazy is in to get a live creature from a vending machine?
  • Cooked pizza – Pizza machines in Europe and America are becoming more popular! In just 3 minutes, you can get a 9 inch fresh pizza from a pizza vending machine! How cool is that? A full meal on the go!
  • Cupcakes – You can enjoy a sweet treat from a vending machine in New York, LA, Chicago, Dallas, or Atlanta. Sprinkles Cupcakes started this trend and it’s likely to lead to more baked goods in vending machines!
  • French Fries – The Netherlands has a vending machine that dispenses fresh, hot french fries. Hotels offer fries to guests so they can grab a snack anytime of the day or night


  • Shoes – You never know when you might need a new pair of shoes! The Onitsuka Tiger machine in Carnaby Street, London is offering shoes so you no longer have to worry if you break a sole!
  • Legos – Germany train stations are offering Legos in a vending machines. This is a fun way to get toys on the go!
  • Flowers – An automated kiosk in Raleigh, NC offers fresh-cut arrangements. This is the perfect way to grab some last minute flowers for a loved one. The flowers even come with a vase and card!
  • Prescription Medications – MedBox has figured out how to dispense medication from a vending machine using security measures such as fingerprint samples. These machines are primarily used by pharmacies, assisted living facilities, doctors, and clinics to help manage sensitive drugs.

These are just a few of the many unique items offered in vending machines around the world. In the future, more items including alcohol are likely to be sold in vending machines. What’s the most unique item you’ve seen in a vending machine and what items would you want to purchase from a vending machine in the future?

Sharing is Caring; Share-A-Coke!


It’s created a lot of hype recently and people all over the US are scouring stores in search of their names on Coke bottles and cans. The Share-A-Coke campaign this Summer 2014 is a big hit and takes product personalization to the next level. Coke has not only replaced their logo with 250 of the most popular names on some of their 20oz bottles, but the Share A Coke Tour with over 500 stops nationally gives people the chance to personalize 2 of coke cans of their own – one for themselves and one for a loved-one or friend. For the tour, Coke has set up a ton of cool vending machines that print custom names on cans instantaneously and dispense them to you! There haven’t been any stops in Iowa but we’ve seen a ton of names in stores here and it’s extremely exciting! We’ve also seen in stores; 12oz coke cans with nicknames such as “BFF”, “Gamer”, “Legend”, “Buddy”, and “Star”, just to name a few.

The campaign has also created a huge amount of buzz on social media for Coke, especially with Instagram and Facebook. As of mid-July, there had already been more than 125,000 posts about the campaign.So all-in-all, we’d say the campaign has already seen success, not only with brand conversion among purchasers but mainly with the online community.


The Share-A-Coke Tour even came by Iowa State University a short while ago and we made a bunch of cans for ourselves and our friends! Here’s a picture of our cute customized cans:


Did you find your name? Let us know! Don’t forget to #shareacoke when you share your pictures on Instagram and Facebook

Sustainable Coffee Capsules – What’s Your Take On It?

Coffee Header

Single-serve coffee has become a thing of today. While the markets for freshly brewed coffee are still hot, the single-serve market is definitely heating up. According to MarketWatch; which is published by Dow Jones & Co., single-serve coffee still accounted for less than half the volume of regular coffee sales, but they were forecast to rise by 213% to an estimated $3.1 billion in 2012 from 2011. With the quick adoption of single-serve coffee by consumers, many large brands, and even new brands are joining this coffee trend.

Coffee Single Serve

Here’s an interesting thought though, with the rising concern for environmental sustainability, how in line is the concept of single-serve coffee with these concerns? Many of the disposable capsules or pods are usually made of plastic or another chemically engineered material that isn’t biodegradable. With people drinking so much coffee every day, week or month, this indefinitely accumulates a ton of waste, and not to mention, requires a large amount of resources to keep producing. Beanarella, a Swiss Coffee Company which was founded in 2011 is one of the players in the single-serve coffee market. Beanarella was granted the “Golden Idea Award 2013” for being the first company to create a compostable coffee capsule worldwide. We think this is a huge step in the right direction and hope to see other brands following in their footsteps in the near future.


How about you? Are you a fan of the Keurig Coffee Brewers or any other single-serve coffee products? The coffee industry is now addressing sustainability concerns, but how willing would you be to pay more to use the more sustainable products?

Let us know your take on this!

Used Car Vending Machines?

Vending Solutions

Photo from FoxNews.com

An Atlanta-based car dealer, Carvana,has turned a few heads with the opening of their latest retail option. Consumers looking to purchase a certified used vehicle now have the option of browsing, selecting and paying for their new vehicle at a vending machine.

The new “machine” is located in Atlanta and achieves the main goal of Carvana by cutting out the dealership and salespeople. Carvana says that their people-less car selling translates to at least $1,500 of savings on each vehicle. The location features three separate bays, or garages, that hold a wide selection of cars that users can get access to in two different ways. First, if you use Carvana’s main service and purchase your vehicle online, you can pick it up at this new vending machine. Secondly, there are fully digital screens at each bay that will display the inventory currently available at that location. Purchasing a vehicle from this machine means you can drive away in your new vehicle without ever having to speak to a salesperson.

National Vending knows that the rise in self-service shopping is growing in popularity and vending services play an important role in creating physical retail and interaction locations for online businesses.

Bike Helmet Vending Machines to Debut in Boston

Vending Solutions

Source: www.bostonherald.com

Boston’s bike sharing service is adding a new service for their patrons in hopes of increasing rider safety and convenience. Most bike share riders do not carry a helmet around with them, especially if it is a spur of the moment decision to rent a bike. The HelmetHub service will provide riders a way to rent bike helmets and return them at the end of their ride at vending machines attached to the bike rental stations.

This new service is a good example of listening to customers’ needs and wants and finding ways to improve your service and product offering to meet those needs and wants. National Vending makes it easy for vending patrons to communicate their ideas and needs through improved technology, including QR codes. Adding QR codes to our vending services is one of the easy to use methods we can increase patron interaction and make the vending services in your facility stand out and succeed.

Google Mobile Wallet for iPhones

Mobile payments are becoming increasingly popular for retail stores, online shopping and even vending services! A popular application for mobile payments is Google’s Mobile Wallet, which enables users to use their phone in place of credit or debit cards when paying for products or services by using NFC chips, or Near Field Communication chips. These chips allow mobile devices to communicate with each other when they touch or are within a few inches of each other. For mobile payments, smartphones are typically touched to a pad that is also NFC-enabled and the devices communicate the payment information to each other.

Google recently released a new version of its Mobile Wallet app for iPhones; an app that was previously only available on Android devices. Apple iPhones do not have NFC chips so the app will not work exactly like the Android version, but through Gmail attachments and stored credit and debit card data, users can simplify online shopping and send money. iPhone users can now access loyalty programs and redeem offers by location using the application though.

National Vending sees a lot of potential in mobile payments and the use of mobile loyalty programs for vending solutions and already features QR code technology on many of its products to promote consumer interaction and feedback.

Quick Responses to Customer Needs

National Vending is always looking for ways to improve the vending services we provide, and we are excited to share these ideas and technologies at Building Operating Management’s NFMT Vegas trade show September 17-18th.

One of these exciting new technologies is the use of QR codes to improve usage of vending services for operators, managers and facility or building managers. QR, or quick response, codes are matrix barcodes that can be scanned by smart phone. When a patron’s smart phone interprets the code, it will perform the action specified by the QR code. These actions can be anything from loading a website or opening a text message, to loading a phone number to call or downloading an app.

For facility managers, this means that customers at your vending services will have an easier time getting in touch directly with the vending management or operators. There are few things more frustrating to vending machine patrons than a malfunctioning or out of stock vending machine. With a simple QR code, customers are able to submit service issues and provide comments on the machines and services. Customers are also able to request products that they would like in the machines so that your vending services can be tailored to your specific market.

Savings with Energy Star Vending Solutions

Vending Machine ManagementThere are few vending machine technologies that will save you more money annually than Energy Star certified machines. Energy Star was created in 1992 by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy to create an international standard for energy efficient consumer products.

To gain Energy Star certification, there is a long list of specifications that each machine model has to meet that are set by the EPA. National Vending provides machines that meet these strict specifications in order to help reduce energy use that not only benefits the environment, but your business as well. You can save up to $150 per year to upgrade to just one energy-efficient beverage machine.

By running more energy-efficient equipment, your vending machines will consume less electricity and cost lest to operate. This energy saving is especially important for food and beverage vending solutions that use refrigeration to keep food fresh.

In September, National Vending will be participating in Building Operating Management’s NFTA Vegas convention and highlighting some of the latest in our Energy Star certified equipment and explaining the benefits of these machines to fellow attendees. You can visit www.NationalVending.com to find out more and see our full range of products and services to help start and grow your vending business!

Watching Water Sales

According to a study by Market Watch, for the first time in years, bottled water sales are outpacing soda. From 2001 to 2011, carbonated beverages like soda have shrunk 16% while bottled water sales have risen by 56%. For vending machine management companies like National Vending and operators, paying attention to consumer demands, shopping trends and diet habits will help make your vending services more successful.

This trend, according to experts, can be attributed to a more wide-spread awareness of the health concerns caused by sugary drinks such as soda. Consumers have been shying away from soda and replacing it with water in an attempt to stay healthier, a drastic shift in diet habit from the 1980’s and 1990’s when soda was much more popular.

The wide variety of bottle water options available today are evidence of this beverages’ popularity in the market. Stores and vending machines alike offer a wide variety of brands, sizes, and even flavors. Water has also become diversified by type of water or purification method including spring water, distillation, ozonation, reverse osmosis, distillation and ultraviolet light. Bottled water is also being enhanced with flavors that can be added from an extra product, the addition of extra vitamins or minerals and many more options.