Touch-screen technology could be on its way to a vending machine near you, but don’t be surprised if you’re charged a little more for your soda or snack.
Although a touch-screen product-menu option is used on less than 5 percent of current vending machines, experts tell Consumers Digest that this feature will become increasingly prevalent in the next 5 years.
A touch-screen product-menu option allows a consumer to view additional product information, such as a nutritional label, before he/she selects the product for purchase. But this convenience could come at an additional cost, says Dale Schmidt, who is a vending analyst at market-research company IBISWorld. Vending machines that have this technology would be more expensive for vending-machine owners to purchase, which would make the owners more inclined to increase the price of their products.
Vending-machine owners “would have to find a way to recoup that cost, and the industry as a whole is on the decline so it’s not something that could really be subsidized by other parts of the business,” Schmidt says. He believes that a cost increase would be slight, but he couldn’t determine by how much product prices could rise.
Tailored advertisements also will become the norm on touch-screen vending machines. Heidi Chico, who is president of vending-machine manufacturer USelectIt, says touch-screen vending machines use facial-recognition technology to determine the gender and age of a customer and tailor product advertisements to him/her. Over the next few years, she believes, it could be possible for a vending machine to recognize regular customers and tailor product advertisements based on the customers’ prior selections.
– K. Fanuko