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How to Start a Vending Machine Business

  1. What is vending?
  2. Where to place your vending machines
  3. How to plan a budget
  4. Unusual ideas for your vending machine business

Vending machine business is a great idea for a side hustle because you can easily combine it with your main job. However, it doesn’t mean that a vending business is a source of easy money. To get a decent profit, you need to do a thorough market research and pick the best locations for your vending machines. Read on to find out how to do that!

What is vending?

Who hasn’t bought a coffee or snack from a vending machine at least once? In plain words, vending refers to selling products and services through special devices which are called “vending machines”. Vending machines offer different types of products and services, including:

  • hot and cold beverages;
  • snacks;
  • sweets;
  • healthy food;
  • newspapers, magazines;
  • lottery tickets;
  • hygiene products;
  • payment services, etc.

Where to place your vending machines

The right location of your vending machines can make all the difference in the success of your vending business. The most common locations include a shopping mall, university campus, bus stop, movie theatre, and other busy venues that attract plenty of people. When choosing the best location for your machine, make sure that the products or services it offers meet the needs of the local target audience. Here are a few tips:  

  • sell sandwiches and snacks in schools and universities, and not in gyms;
  • sell toys in shopping malls, and not in movie theatres;
  • sell sweets at amusement parks, and not in health food stores;
  • sell newspapers and magazines at railway stations and airports, and not in shopping malls. 

Once you’ve picked the best place for your machine, you  need to make arrangements with the owner of the location. Most likely, you’ll have to pay them a percentage of your sales, plus electricity bills. However, the terms vary on a case to case basis, so be sure to clear up that issue in all detail.  

Also, it’s important that your selected location is safe, well-lit, and equipped with surveillance cameras. This way, you’ll protect your vending machines from theft and vandalism. 

How to plan a budget

One of the best things about a vending business is that it doesn’t require heavy money investments. You’ll need money for a machine (ca. $2,000), products, and technical maintenance. Here are the things you need to consider:

  • The more machines you have, the more costly it will be for you to maintain them. You’ll have to purchase products, deliver them to locations, and make sure your machines are functional. If you’re selling food, you’ll also have to keep your stock fresh. If you can’t afford to hire an assistant, start with one or two machines.  
  • Decide what type of transportation vehicle (car, truck, etc.) you’ll need to deliver your products to your locations.
  • To minimize your expenses, buy from wholesale suppliers or directly from manufacturer. 
  • Research the market and needs of your target audience. Once you’ve gained a foothold in the market, you can start to scale up your business.

Unusual ideas for your vending machine business

Do you want your vending business to rise above competition? Check out these creative ideas that will make your sales skyrocket!


Vending machines that sell books are commonly found at bus stops, railway stations, and airports. Forget about philosophy works and bulky encyclopedias. Focus on detectives and novels instead. In Canada, a local bookshop installed a vending machine that sells used books. The trick is that you don’t know what book you’ll get!


Traveller products

This is a true salvation for travellers! At large airports, you can find vending machines that sell chargers for smartphones, clothes, shoes, hygiene products, traveller cushions, vitamins, and hundreds of other useful items that you can’t do without on the road.

Traveller products

Baby products

Created by responsible parents, WeGoBabies is a network of vending machines that offer an impressive selection of baby products, including diapers, tissues, dummies, milk, juice, and even healthy food. Everything your baby might need is available in one place! You can see WeGoBabies machines at airports, zoos, museums, amusement parks, shopping malls, etc. 

Baby products

Sportswear for fitness points

Nike, a global sportswear company, found a smart way to promote healthy lifestyle through their FuelBox vending machines. Now owners of FuelBand bracelets can pay for products with their Fuel points. The more you train, the more Nike products (socks, caps, T-shirts, etc.) you can afford!   

Sportswear for fitness points

Nail services

In Japan, vending machines can even get your nails done. How cool is that? Choose from dozens of nail polish colors and patterns. A smart machine will do your nails in 5 minutes!  

Polluted water

How about paying 1 dollar for a bottle of water contaminated with malaria, cholera or hepatitis? This is how UNICEF is raising awareness of the lack of clean drinking water in Africa. Each dollar can buy pure water for 40 African kids. 


The South African Firearms Control Alliance launched an impactful social campaign. To show how easy one can buy guns in Africa, the organization installed vending machines that are “selling” weapons (but not for real, of course).



FEBO is a major fast food restaurant chain in the Netherlands which is known for selling  food via vending machines. Fried chips, hamburgers, beverages, croquettes, and other mouth-watering treats are very popular among tourists that are looking for a fast and budget-friendly way to grab a bite.  


Blog editor and content marketing specialist at Logaster. Expert in web marketing and branding. Writes complex concepts with simplicity. Natalia’s articles contain useful guidelines on how to build a successful brand and promote it online.

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