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The Washington Post reports that a “new generation of vending machines” is upon us, in which the likes of cosmetics, computer power cords, sunscreen and an extensive array of HBC items will be available in machines located “in high-traffic areas such as universities, airports, theme parks and hotels.”

The goal of the new movement is to change the image of the vending machine as a place where one can acquire low-priced items such as candy bars and soft drinks to something that is “the easiest and most convenient form of retailing, even for more expensive items.” While vending machines in the US generate as much as $25 billion a year in sales, that’s considered chump change compared to places like Japan, where vending machines generate twice as much in sales and offer pricey items such as expensive gourmet lunches and even blue jeans. Part of the new technology means equipping machines with the ability to take credit cards and debit cards, something far more common outside the US.

Among the companies looking into these new high-tech machines: Target, Staples, Kodak, and Banana Boat.
KC's View:
Blue jeans from a vending machine? Not sure about that…though certainly it would seem logical that the US would start to see a vending revolution akin to things that have long been available in other parts of the world.

We can remember going to Anuga - the retail technology exposition held every other year in Cologne, Germany – more than a decade ago and seeing some pretty outrageous forms of vending that never seemed to make their way here. In view of the consumer acceptance of technologies of self-checkout, and the apparent desire of many retailers to depersonalize the shopping experience, we’d imagine that the time would be right for such innovations.