Vending machines offer the consumers the convenience of finding products and services at hand wherever they go. Many companies are profiting on this growing business trend, and are branching out beyond the typical candy and soda vending to provide some very unique and wacky services.
Here I present you with the top 5 weird and wacky vending services of 2008. Convenient, or strange? You read and decide.
5. The Beautiful Vending Company
The Beautiful Vending Company, whose services are available to businesses in the UK, offers the installation of beauty product vending machines to upscale businesses. Their target market for their product includes the popular pubs and clubs, gyms and fitness centers and malls.
The idea in itself is really quite similar to using communal hair dryers after showering at a fitness club. However, in the case of Beautiful Vending's products, top of the line hair straighteners and curling irons are available as a pay-per-use service. Unlike many vending machines, you don't keep the product. For those who are both style conscious and a bit germophobic, the high temperatures of the machines are said to keep the styling plates hygienic.
4. Chargebox Energy Vending
Chargebox solves a common dilemma; what to do when your trusted PDA or MP3 player runs out of batteries while you're running around town? They hope the answer is that you will make use of their energy vending machines, available in public locations throughout the UK to recharge.
The idea is simple; you pay in order to use their locker-like compartments to plug in your compatible device (20 options) while you go about your business. All devices charge for 40 minute intervals, and can be accessed only with a key that has been provided to open your specific locker. Chargebox ensures that their charging machines aren't used as storage facilities, and will remove and potentially discard any belongings left in lockers for over 5 consecutive hours after charging is complete. Naturally, I'm sure if you'd like to continue to pay for the use of the boxes, there is no time limit.
3. TMC Pet Vending - Coin Operated Dog Wash
TMC Pet Vending's Dog Wash is a vending machine service that can be purchased or leased by businesses, and placed inside or out. Dog owners know that sometimes dogs just get dirty when out and about, which in turn results in the dirt being brought into your home or car. Now this product has provided an answer; a complete bathing and grooming service available wherever you happen to be with your pooch. There are 6 wash cycles, a hand-help wash gun, 2 drying options, and all the safety and disinfecting features you might look for. The cost for consumers is $10 for 12 minutes; affordable if vendor users work quickly.
This is one unique vending machine that might bring in a good profit for investors, since in this case it is the business owner's responsibility to find a location and setup shop for a substantial purchase price or $500 a month for a lease.
2. Trek Stop Cycling Convenience Centers for Bicycle Repairs
Avid bikers must run into those unfortunate occasions where a crucial repair is required while out on a ride. Or at least I assume so, since someone out there thinks bicycle repair vending machines will capture a new market. The first Trek Stop Cycling Convenience Center (translation: bicycle repair vending machine by Trek) was setup along a major bike route in Madison, Wisconsin to bring a similar convenience to cyclists that is available to automobile drivers.
Trek offers this unique vending machines to industry related businesses who want to bring convenience to bikers; for a cost of course. The machines contain all bicycle products that might be required for any repair, including tubes, patches, tire levers, C02 patches and more. And for those who might need a little assistance to get their bike back on the road, instructional videos can also be purchased. The Trek Stop Cycling Convenience Centers also offer shelter for cyclists to complete their repairs out of the elements.
1. Smart Beer Vending Machines
In the Czech Republic beer vending machines are available, which offers the convenience of grabbing a cold brew anytime. Since the drinking age is 18, a technology has been developed to ensure only those of age get to indulge in the product
The ‘smart' part of the name comes into play because it has the ability to read IDs to verify age; by way of a driver's license, passport or EU card. Of course, the technology is not without its flaws, since the vending machine has no way to gauge if the consumer might be buying for a minor that's present; a judgment call that can often be made by bartenders and retailers. I'd also be curious to learn if there are laws against drinking in public locations (without authorized liquor licenses) which exist here in Canada and south of the border in the US. I also can't help but wonder if the convenience of alcohol would increase the population's intoxication.
In any case, the Smart Beer Vending Machines of the Czech Republic are the #1 most unique of 2008, in part because of the unique computerized ‘smart' development, and because how could something that dispenses the world's favorite drink not be?
Beer vending machines are also a popular trend in Japan, and other progressive locations around the world. I wonder with this new technology, where they might popup next?
From investment opportunities, to unique and creative conceptions of entrepreneurs; the vending machine market existing in 2008 has set a new standard in the world of businesses and inventors.
Additional Sources: Springwise.com and Prague Post