3 types of vending machines and how they make money

Basically, What are the 3 types of vending machines and how they make money? Vending machines come in many forms offering a diverse range of products and functions. However, the three main types – snack, beverage, and specialty machines – make up most operator routes. In this guide, we examine how each of these major vending machine varieties generate profits along with their earning potential.

3 types of vending machines and how they make money

Understanding the capabilities, costs, maintenance, and sales nuances of different equipment types allows optimizing your machine mix for maximum returns.

1. Snack Vending Machines


Snack vending units sell pre-packaged foods that don’t require heating or refrigeration. Typical snacks include:

  • Chips
  • Candy bars
  • Cookies
  • Crackers
  • Granola bars
  • Gum/mints
  • Nuts
  • Pastries

These ambient food machines are the most common type found in offices, schools, hotels, and other locations.

How Snack Vending Machines Make Money

Profits from snack vending come from:

  • Marking up wholesale snacks 2-3X to set competitive vending prices
  • Focusing on faster-selling impulse buy items with good shelf life to maximize sales
  • Offering a wide selection of brands/flavors to drive purchase variety
  • Using coils and trays that allow different sized snacks to vend evenly

Top-earning snack machines can gross $100-$300 per week based on foot traffic, pricing, and merchandising.

Considerations on Snack Vending Machines

  • Relatively low equipment cost from $1,500-$3,000
  • No refrigeration repairs
  • Easy to stock and transport products
  • Ability to test niche and healthy snacks
  • Chance of stale or expired products without sales

2. Beverage Vending Machines


Beverage machines vend pre-packaged canned/bottled drinks including:

  • Soda
  • Juice
  • Water
  • Sports drinks
  • Energy drinks
  • Coffee
  • Tea

Available in bottle-can combo or can-only configurations, cooled drink machines are a staple in most workplaces and public locations.

How Beverage Vending Machines Make Money

Beverage vending profits stem from:

  • Marking up drinks 2-3X over wholesale costs
  • Strategic mix of top-selling sodas, juices, waters, and energy drinks
  • Ability to stock more units due to small product size
  • Improved margins from captive audiences like at events or airports

Well-located beverage machines can earn $150-$600+ per week. Bottle options boost profits.

Considerations on Beverage Vending Machines

  • Higher equipment cost from $3,500-$7,000
  • Refrigeration repairs and electricity costs
  • Limited selection for each brand variety
  • Frequent restocking of fastest selling drinks
  • Higher beverage margins for cold drinks

3. Specialty Vending Machines


Specialty machines vend less common items including:

  • Coffee – brew cups on-demand
  • Food – heat/cook food items
  • Ice cream – vend novelties/frozen treats
  • Bulk – dispense snacks in bins
  • Capsule toy – dispense low-cost toys in plastic capsules

These unique machines require special features to merchandise specialty products.

How Specialty Vending Machines Make Money

Specialty vending profits vary widely but generally stem from:

  • On-demand delivery of specialized products
  • Novelty and uniqueness that attracts impulse purchases
  • Bundling consumable supplies with equipment sales
  • Higher pricepoints justified by live-preparation or exotic offerings
  • Rental commissions from high-traffic host venues

Units range from $200/week for capsule toys to $2,000+/week for espresso machines at the right sites.

Considerations on Specialty Vending Machines

  • Much higher equipment cost from $5,000 to $50,000+
  • Require dedicated power, water, drainage, and ventilation
  • Special licensing, permits, regulations
  • Higher maintenance and restocking needs
  • Ability to automate specialty food/drink sales

Faqs on 3 types of vending machines

Q: Which type of vending machine is most profitable?

A: Beverage machines overall generate the highest returns due to captive audiences, lower product spoilage rates, and higher markups on popular drinks.

Q: What is the average price for new vending machines?

A: Expect to pay $1,500-$3,000 for new snack machines, $3,500-$7,000 for new beverage machines, and $5,000-$50,000 for specialized food/drink machines.

Q: Should I focus on one machine type when starting out?

A: Diversifying across snacks, drinks and a specialty machine spreads risk. But starting with quality used soda/snack machines to test locations often works best for beginners before expanding.

Q: How many machines do profitable vending operators run?

A: Most successful operators manage between 50-200 machines total. Minimum route size to support full-time income is typically 30-50 vending units.

Conclusion on 3 types of vending machines

Understanding the core capabilities and differences between snack vending, beverage vending, and specialty vending equipment allows tailoring your machines for maximum returns. The right mix of reliable, high-capacity units stocked strategically with your area’s top impulse purchases drives profitability. Factor capital costs, maintenance needs, target locations, and required foot traffic when selecting equipment.

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