Are you someone who has enjoyed the pleasure of picking snacks? Starting a vending machine business may be the best option for you. But how to start a vending machine business? The vending machine industry has evolved over the past decade. Its evolution occurred as the consumers’ lives got busier, they tend to seek more convenient and time saving options such as on-the-go options. At founderactivity, this article was compiled which will help with what you need to know to get started.

Vending machines are not novel business ideas. They can now be found everywhere. For someone who is looking to start a vending machine business, there are some things to consider. What the vending industry is like and how much they generate as revenue per year? The vending machine business industry made a revenue of $31.85 billion in 2022 globally. The information provided for you below about vending machine business will important if you are exploring on how to start a vending machine business.

What are vending machines?

A vending machine is an electronic machine that provides people a convenient way to get food, drinks or goods they need for consumption on the go.

Traditionally, vending machines sell food and drinks. Today, you can set up vending machines anywhere you are able to attract customers and sell electronics like phone chargers. As lives get increasingly busy, people are often looking for ways that they can get what they need as quickly as possible. To save them the time of having to stop at a store and take time to browse and make the purchase.

Machines are owned and operated by vending machine businesses. Larger businesses are who dominated the vending machine industry sector. It is also know that smaller businesses are very profitable.

If you are able to come up with unique ideas on what you can serve the public with a vending machine, you will be making money in no time. A good business model is able to lead to a very profitable business.

Who are the largest operators in vending machines business?

Vending Machine OperatorsRevenue
1Azkoyen Group USD 161.33 million
2R.S. Hughes Co., Inc.USD 348.5 million
3Crane Merchandising SystemsUSD 200 million
4Fuji ElectricUSD 1.54 billion
5GLORYUSD 224 million
6Sanden CorporationUSD 2.57 billion
7Wurth Industry North AmericaUSD 7.7 billion
8Diebold NixdorfUSD 4.58 billion
9Mars, IncorporatedUSD 37 billion
10Cardinal Distributing Co. Inc.USD 63.6 million

How to start a vending machine business?

You are able to take any insight to your advantage you have the on the vending machine business which will you a great upper-hand. To learn more on how to start a vending machine business, the following steps will prepare you for it.

1. Decide what you want to sell

Most people think that vending machines come in standard such as selling snacks and sodas. If you are about to start a vending machine business, there are many options you can choose from when deciding what to sell.

Depending on the type of vending machine you choose, start out with one or two machines by targeting a specific customer base. After, you will gradually learn how you can add more stock or machines depending on customer spending behavior.

Food and Beverage

How to Start Vending Machine Business?

Food and beverage vending machines that sell snacks, soda or even candy makes up the majority of vending machines across the world. Famously, beverage vending machines making nearly a third of total revenue from the vending machines industry.

Depending on the sales you make, cater your vending machine inventory to a location driven market. For example, if you are thinking of locating your vending machine near a school; food like granola bars, chips and juices would be the best options to be stocked. By keeping track of what gets sold out more, stock up more when restocking the inventory.


How to Start Vending Machine Business?

Bulk vending machines requires little capital and low maintenance costs compared to food and beverage vending machines. These vending machines can be stocked with gumballs, stickers, toys or even rubber balls.

It may be a low maintenance vending machine but the quarters add up at the end of the day. The products you sell can be bought in stock letting you enjoy buying at lower costs so that you can sell them for slightly higher and fair prices. In the right location like parks or malls, your vending machines business will offer you ability to make an income.

The costs of operating for bulk vending machines are from low to nonexistent. They are mechanical devices and do not use a lot electricity or battery power.


Vending machines are not limited to just consumable products. In large public places like airports, malls or even arenas have machines that sell goods like accessories, beauty products or techy gadgets. These vending machines use the same technology to operate as a standard vending machine but some are differentiated as automated retail machines depending on the customer base.

Below listed are the some products you will find on specialty vending machines.

2. Pick a good location for your machines

How to Start Vending Machine Business?

What you decide to sell in your vending machine is crucial. Even more importantly, where you to decide to put the vending machine will determine how you earn and make a profit. For example, having a food or beverage vending machine may be completely useless in a area with restaurants and fast food places. Whereas, the same vending machine would have the ability to sell more products in a park letting you earn an income and make profits.

To help you to decide what locations would be ideal to start a vending machine business, think about the places where you would have purchased anything off a vending machine. Or where you have seen people purchase frequently off a vending machine. That there is your opportunity to start a vending machine there and cater your products to that particular market.

Listed below, you will see potential places where it would be ideal to start a vending machine.

  • Bus stations
  • Manufacturing facilities
  • Apartment complexes
  • Grocery stores
  • Malls and shopping centers
  • Train stations
  • Hotels and motels
  • Schools
  • Universities
  • Hospitals and health centers
  • Laundromats
  • Airports
  • Hookah lounges
  • Hair salons
  • Gas stations
  • Fitness centers
  • Barbershops
  • Concert venues

3. Find your vending machine

In order to start a vending machine business, you are not able to begin without purchasing a machine. To your luck, finding your ideal vending machine is just as easy as an online search. Before purchasing you vending machine, be sure to do your research. You will need to look at different vending machine offerings and the prices they are offered at by looking from both local and national suppliers. Also, do not forget to consider the cost of your inventory when browsing through vending machine prices.

The types of vending machines that you can buy from different sellers are listed below:

  • Manufacturers or wholesale vending suppliers
  • Secondary market sellers
  • Consumer-to-consumer platforms like Craigslist and eBay

By putting into consider what you will selling in your vending machine, you may need special features when purchasing a vending machine. These features can include:

  • Snack and drink combination machines
  • Credit card and large bill functionality
  • Touch or voice accessibility
  • Remote monitoring software and low stock alerts
  • Branded “wraps” for the front of your machine
  • Interactive screens

4. Stock your vending machine with inventory

After you have purchased the vending machine of your choice, you are perfectly halfway through starting a vending machine business. Your next step includes stocking it with inventory.

Your selection of products in the vending machine is an important factor if you want to boost sales. If you choose and stock items that your target audience may not purchase, would end up with your vending machine business incurring losses. Choose to stock items that your target audience are more likely to purchase by paying attention what goes out of stock and what does not. To stay one step ahead, do not over order your inventory in the beginning and try adjusting your stock based on what is demanded more.

5. Explore your financial options

When starting a vending machine business, it does not require much of a startup capital the way most small business do. Some business startups can costs from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

While a bunch of thousand dollars is not clearly some pocket change, you will need a loan. You will some startup money in order to purchase a vending machines and relevant stock.

You can consider the options given below to finance your vending machine business venture.

Short term loan

If you an established business owner, you will have the business financial history to prove when securing a short term loan to help finance your vending machine.

Just like a traditional short term loan, your money will be directly deposited into your bank account; you will start repaying you loan plus interest over a period of time as discussed with the bank. Your repayment period will usually be 18 months or fewer. Downside of obtaining a short term loan is that the interest rates are higher than long term loans. But the upside is that it easier to qualify for short term loans than long term loans.

Even though it is short term loan, you will be reviewed and you will need to get your business financials approved. Documents like your business revenue and statements would help you with good personal credit to prove why you are eligible for the loan.

Equipment financing

Since vending machine business do not necessarily take lots capital to start, but you do need a little help financially. Therefore you can try an equipment financing loan. The terms with these types of loans will depend on the value of the equipment you decide to purchase. Since it will act act as the collateral for your equipment financing loan in case you default your loan payments.

If the vending machine is properly cared for, it can last up to 10 years and more. When applying for this loan in addition to your financial information and business plan, you should mention your equipment costs that you plan to purchase. Furthermore, if you need capital to in order to purchase inventory, you should consider inventory financing.

6. Make the right investments

Once you have a selected location for the machine you have purchased, you are ready to start your new business venture in the vending machine business industry. But the last step you have to focus on is how to make your business profitable. Every decision you decide to make will impact your business profitability.

Invest in a vending management system (VMS)

Standard vending machines will require to manage your inventory manually which can be done since you are new business person in the vending machine business with a couple of vending machines. But if you are someone with five or more vending machines, you want to invest in a vending management system (VMS). VMS software will allow you to manage your vending machines from remote location through an internet enabled device. Therefore, you are able to streamline operations, record your inventory and record your revenue. This will make your business records much easier to update since it provides real time inventory updates and reporting tools.

Invest in customer service

Make sure that your vending machines are always optimized for your customers so that they are able to use it with ease. A few factors on making transactions easier for your customer will help you emphasize your customer service from the beginning you vending machine business. Just like most location based vending machines, you are often dependent on word of mouth marketing and in person connections. Also, ensure that the vending machines are stocked and functioning up to standard every week or twice a week.

Invest your time

Every business venture, even when starting a vending machines business, it requires more than your capital investment. The time and your attention that you invest in your business is very important too. A full size and functioning vending machine will require you to collect the money from the machine weekly. This means that you will have to invest some of your time every week to collect money from the machines depending on their location.

In addition to the time it will take you to purchase new stock, visit every machine in their locations for restock. You should also research trends in sales and what new products are available so that you are able to cater to your customers as per their needs to earn profits.

For bulk vending machines with non perishable products, the time you invest will be much lower ranging from four to eight weeks. If you are someone who cannot commit full time to your vending machine business, bulk vending may be the best option for you.

Vending machines costs

Your majority cost of starting a vending machine business will consist of the cost of the vending machine and its stocks. An investment of $2,000 can be used to get a basic vending machine that is up and running. Most vending machine businesses start by purchasing a use or refurbished vending machine where their prices will range from $1,200 to $3,000. Whereas, a new vending machine can cost you anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000 depending on the features you require.

Secondly, other than the cost of the machine, you will also have to consider the cost of your inventory which will be used to stock your machines. Based on how many machines you decide you own, what range of inventory you will stock could lead to your inventory cost being a couple of thousand dollars.

Advantages and Disadvantages of starting a vending machine business?

Like any new venture, there will be always pros and cons to every decision you make. After you have run through every factor, only then you will be able to start a vending machine business and make a profit. The advantages and disadvantages of starting a vending machine business will be explained below.

How to Start Vending Machine Business?

Advantages of starting a vending machine business

Easy to scale

Scaling your new vending machine business is easy. You are able to start off with a few machines in a few locations and as you grow your income and become successful, you can expand to more locations.

Cash Flow

With a vending machine, you will not have to worry about back checks or any due balances. Vending machine business is clearly a machine where people should insert money or swipe their card to make their purchase. Therefore, you are able to instantly collect your income.

Variety of choices

With the growing varieties of vending machines, you are now able to serve healthy good or even gourmet options.

Little to no overhead costs

There is very minimum overhead costs when running a vending machine business compared when running a small business of your own. Your overhead costs would not include employee salaries or office space rent.

Disadvantages of starting a vending machine business

• Time commitment

The operation of a vending machine business will require you to take some of time and energy into stocking when there is no stock available, servicing the machine to have efficient function and collecting the income from your machine on a regular basis.

Theft and vandalism

When it comes to theft and vandalism, vending machines are an easy target. Always ensure that your machine is located in secure and safe areas to that you can avoid losses in your business.

Tips for starting a vending machine business

  • Market it to consumers
  • Keep them stocked at all times
  • Build Good Relations
  • Insurance on Vending Machines

Facts about vending machine business

  • Having a vending machines business is a very profitable. Overall, it is able to generate $400 when the machine is situated in a smart location such as a high traffic area.
  • Vending machines that sell packaged food and beverages often the most profit. This is because they tend to be more appealing to a mass audience and not a specific niche.
  • The cost of your vending machine will depend on what features you will require with the product you sell. A basic functioning vending machine can cost you $2,000 whereas, a vending machine with special features can you anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000.
  • Your license to operate a vending machine will depend with the state or municipality of your country. You will need special license if you are selling food.

In conclusion the vending machine business industry drives millions of dollars each year. You can most definitely enter this market to earn income and profits with the right market research, proper decision making with entrepreneurial drive.

After checking my wallet, I stood in front of the vending machine and confidently said to myself…
“I have what it takes.”

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Uditha Sanjaya
Uditha Sanjaya, owner of "Founder Activity" has been passionate about business since he was 14 and started his own Online marketing group in his home garage. Now His unique talent is helping B2B and B2C companies with unique lead-generation campaigns.

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