Vending business - where to start and how to make it profitable?

Buying a cup of coffee from a vending machine has become quite commonplace. It’s convenient and simple. In vending machines you can buy not only drinks and snacks, but also various goods and services — disks, contact lenses, hygiene items, comfortable shoes, ties and even «likes» for social networks, manicure, massage, in general — almost everything. The future, when the buyer is in contact with the car, and not with a live seller, has come. But behind the machines there are still real people — «vending» businessmen.

Vending — what is it?

Vending is a relatively young industry for Russian business. In English, the verb to vend means «to sell.» Vending is the sale of goods and services through devices. People who lived in the USSR often recall soda from vending machines with nostalgia — vending was already in the days of the Soviet Union, it only died out during the perestroika period.

In the 2000s, a real vending boom began — with the development of technology, new opportunities for entrepreneurs appeared. Over the past two decades, vending in Russia has developed rapidly, and still has not yet reached the Western level. Therefore, many people think about how to start a vending business, where to start and what nuances should be taken into account.

Pros and cons of vending business

Like any other type of business, the vending machine business has its advantages and pitfalls. Advantages of the vending business:

  1. Easy to manage:
  • put the vending machine in a place with high traffic;
  • fill with popular items;
  • serve regularly and collect money;
  • you don’t have to interact directly with customers.
  1. Work 24/7 — the vending machine carries out sales 24 hours 7 days a week. There are few retail sources of income that provide this advantage without additional labor.
  2. You can sell anything — fresh fruit or the latest technology. The main thing is to correctly identify the needs of potential customers.
  3. There is no need for constant advertising.
  4. There is no need to maintain a large staff.
  5. Small retail space — less rental costs.
  6. The vending machine works according to the principle “first money — then goods”, which eliminates debtors and problems with the transfer of assortment for sale.

Vending is an easy way to get into and run a business. But this case was not without its drawbacks:

  1. A vending machine is a technique that can break down. Then you will have to spend money on repairs, and if it fails completely without the ability to fix it, buy or rent a new one.
  2. Vandalism. One of the common problems that many vending business owners suffer from. It is not always possible to ensure the proper safety of the machine.
  3. Theft. Increasingly, entrepreneurs are faced with this problem — robbers have learned how to extract money from vending machines. Therefore, it is worth being puzzled by the choice of a place where video surveillance would be conducted.
  4. Possible problems with electricity and water supply. They lead to the inactivity of the automated «merchant».
  5. High dependence on location. A bad choice can deprive you of significant profits.

Any business has its advantages and pitfalls. With a competent approach to business, vending can bring good money. To get into the stream, you need to make the right choice of goods or services that will be available in the machine. And in this regard, the variety of options on the vending machine market is limitless.

Types of vending machines

New vending technologies are developing this market at the speed of light around the world. If until recently it was possible to see basically only vending machines with hot / cold drinks and snacks, now you can buy almost everything in the vending machine up to live crabs. Yes, in China, where crabs go for dinner, this is a common thing. And in Moscow, vending machines have recently appeared, where, in addition to printing photos from Instagram, you can also buy likes. Those who do not like to take risks can consider proven options.

Drink vending machines

Vending coffee machines are a real find not only for those who want to refresh themselves with a cup of coffee when all cafes are closed, but also for enterprising people. Coffee vending machines are offered in variations: espresso, mochachino, cappuccino, latte, the more choice, the better. If you put such a machine in the right place, you can have a stable profit.

This type of vending business has a high profitability — the margin on drinks reaches 500%. This applies to coffee and tea. Carbonated drinks in vending machines are popular only in the southern regions. There are other drink options:

  • juices;
  • oxygen cocktails;
  • milkshakes;
  • alcoholic drinks

snack machines

Vending trade is not only tea, coffee and soda. Often in one vending machine with drinks you can find snacks:

  • Chocolates.
  • Cookie.
  • Crisps.
  • Cheese sticks.
  • Crackers.

There are free-standing snack machines, but, as a rule, they are placed next to drinks. These machines are in high demand:

  • in places of waiting (airports, railway stations);
  • educational institutions.

vending equipment


A water vending machine can be found in many city courtyards. It is proposed to collect drinking water in containers of 6, 8, 19 liters. In the same machine you can buy bottles, small and large. In the West, this direction of the vending business has become widespread, in Russia it is gaining momentum. It is recommended to install such devices in densely populated residential areas.

Food vending machine

Vending machines where you can buy a ready-made lunch, sandwich, pizza, rolls are popular:

  • in offices where there is no canteen;
  • at universities;
  • at railway stations and airports.

Products for vending are vacuum-packed, the machine maintains a temperature of + 4, which allows you to maintain freshness. As a rule, in such devices there is a powerful microwave oven for heating. The food vending business in Russia is just beginning to gain momentum and has great potential. The example of the Ural businessman Igor Baibulatov proved this — he occupied the niche of selling rolls through vending machines, developed his own network and is already selling a franchise.

Vending machines for the sale of piece goods

Vending machines for selling piece goods can be divided into two types:

  1. Maxi devices. Designed for high traffic areas.
  2. Microdevices. A small size, as a rule, does not bring huge profits, they are installed rather for convenience — for example, at reception desks.

Gum vending machines are one of the first and most popular vending machines for selling piece goods. Now the range is almost diverse:

  • chocolates;
  • lenses;
  • mobile phones and more.

Service vending machines

The range of services that a vending machine can provide is growing. Some of them:

  • massage chairs;
  • photo booths and printing photos from social networks. networks;
  • copy machines;
  • telescopes and binoculars (popular in tourist areas);
  • payment terminals.

snack machines

Amusement machines

Gaming vending machines are found in the halls of cinemas, in amusement parks and other leisure places. The types of entertainment they offer are varied:

  • virtual reality;
  • video games;
  • karaoke;
  • «capture» of toys, etc.

What is the most profitable vending business?

How to start a vending business so that it brings maximum profit? The profitability of vending machines depends on a number of factors, so it is difficult to unambiguously answer the question of which vending machine is the most profitable. To achieve maximum results, many factors are needed:

  1. Location (most of all affects the profitability of the vending business — if the equipment is installed in a place with high traffic and demand for a product / service, the profitability will go off scale).
  2. A balance of supply and demand—for example, an airport cell phone charger with free charging stations—is unlikely to be profitable.
  3. The choice of payment, cash or card, gives an advantage.
  4. The uniqueness of the offer — if you find «new and unknown», but in demand, success is also guaranteed.

How to start a vending business?

As with starting any type of business, market research and planning is the key to success. There are several ways to start a vending business — each has its own advantages and disadvantages:

  1. From scratch, independently buying vending machines and goods for vending. This scenario gives you the most flexibility — you can start with multiple machines and expand as you go. This method will require a lot of effort — in addition to buying a vending machine and filling it, finding and agreeing on placements (but you can purchase vending equipment from a distributor that provides places).
  2. Buying an existing business. However, it is important to determine why the owner wants to sell it. A thorough background research in business is a must, including checking invoices, checking machines, checking existing contracts, and investigating potential problems.
  3. Buying a franchise is the easiest way to get into the vending business. A franchise gives you the advantage of a ready-made business model. Typically, in addition to the franchise fee at startup, the franchisor takes a percentage of the profits (royalties).

vending machine

How to install a vending machine

Whatever method of launching a vending business is chosen, the installation of a vending machine is inevitable. For this you need:

  • register an individual entrepreneur or LLC;
  • find a place for a vending machine;
  • conclude a lease agreement;
  • choose and buy a vending machine;
  • bring and install.

Also, to install a vending machine, it is desirable to have:

  • sanitary book of the employee servicing the equipment;
  • certificates for products (issued by sellers).

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