How to Start a Vending Machine Business – Part 4:

Choosing The Right Vending Machine Products To Maximize Revenue

It should go without saying that determining the right product mix for the customers at your location is essential to the success of your vending business.

Perhaps this is easier said than done.

Every location is different – with different customer demographics, traffic patterns, and unique requirements – and must be treated as such. There are a plethora of products on the market, and multiple factors to consider when creating a product mix – including a consumer base that increasingly values health and nutrition. Success depends on finding a mix that balances these factors in a way that meets the needs of your location.

Luckily, we’re here to help you navigate through this confusing terrain.


Trends in Healthier Eating

The days of stocking your machine with sugary candy, soda, and gum and watching the cash roll in are long gone. Consumers these days are more health conscious than ever, and demand products that not only taste great, but are better for them as well.

As a result, Healthy Vending is a growing category, and a serious option to consider if you want your business to be around and thrive in the long therm.

That being said, here are the biggest factors to consider when sourcing products for your machines.

5 Factors to Consider When Sourcing Products

  • Taste – this is the most important factor when creating a product mix for your machine. If your products don’t match the taste profile of your location’s average consumer, they just won’t sell. It’s really that simple. Market research (like sampling events) and sales tracking will go a long way to help you arrive at the right combination.
  • Nutritional Value – an overall trend in healthier eating means that your customers pay attention to things like calories, sugar and fat content more than ever before, so create a mix that includes healthier alternatives to traditional junk food. The products in your machine must also meet the guidelines for your specific location. Take special care at schools and hospitals, where guidelines are strictest.
  • Affordability – products must be competitively priced, or they won’t sell. Save money and increase your margins by buying direct from the manufacturer.
  • Brand Recognition – customers are always more likely to purchase a brand with which they are familiar than a product they’ve never seen before. Make sure you’re stocking recognizable products
  • Novelty – customers in your market may get bored with your product mix, so periodically introduce new products to avoid predictability and to keep the customer interested in your machine.

Smart Snacks in School

With a dense, diverse, and (seemingly always) hungry population, schools can be some of the best locations for a vending business. But be aware that special care must be taken when sourcing products. More than 2/3 of the average kid’s calories are consumed at school in the form of meals or snacks, so the options available to them have a huge impact on their overall health.

In June of 2013, the USDA announced the Smart Snacks in School initiative, new federal guidelines that limit the amount of calories, fat, sugar, and sodium in snacks sold in the more than 100,000 schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program.

Among the requirements is the mandate that all foods in school must be whole grain rich, meaning that 50% or more of the ingredients must be a whole grain (or whole grains must be the first ingredient listed), and snacks must be 200 calories or less.

Luckily, healthy vending businesses like make it easy for you to create a product mix that kids find delicious, and that meets these new guidelines.

We made this video to help you understand the new Smart Snacks In Schools Guidelines

Where you can find the best products

When it comes down to it, how you choose to source products will depend on the product type, availability, and your preferences.

Most vending machine business owners don’t just source their products through one channel.

You’ll need to compare prices from each distributor to see where you can get the best pricing on each brand.

When you start purchasing enough products through a certain distributor, you can leverage your pricing at other distributors to negotiate better pricing.

Here are some of the most popular ways to source products:

  • Order directly through the manufacturer. Most product companies have regional Sales and Marketing representatives that want to get their product in more retail outlets (like your vending machines). You will need to order large volumes to order directly from the manufacturer.
  • Purchase at Costco or Sam’s club. These superstores generally have cheaper prices than at most retail locations.
  • Order through wholesale distributers like UNFI (they have a focus on healthy food, but higher minimum purchase prices) and Vistar (less catered to healthy products, but they have lower minimums), or through Amazon (15% off when ordering 5 or more products monthly).

Insider Tip: Hold a Sampling Event at Locations

Sampling events serve a two-fold purpose – first, they’re a great way to help get the word out about your vending program, and build anticipation and excitement for your machine.

Equally as important, a sampling event gives you the opportunity to gauge the taste profile of your average consumer. Partner with a variety of vendors to offer free samples, and see what does and doesn’t work. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be better able to create a product mix that your consumers will love.

Key Takeaways

  • Increased health consciousness means people are demanding more healthy options

  • To get your vending machines into schools, you have to adhere to the strict Smart Snacks In Schools guidelines

  • You may have to use multiple channels to get the best prices for your products

I want to help you get started today.

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healthy vending products of all time

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