What kind of vending machines can you buy?
Coffee vending machines
From a Costa or Starbucks express to a paid-for bean to cup machine, coffee vending machines serve up cafe-style drinks at the touch of a button. Payment mechanisms can vary from pre-loaded staff cards to typical EPOS systems taking cash or card payments. The choice of drinks on offer can go from a super-economical instant tea/coffee vending machine to a top of the range bean to cup machine serving customisable flat whites.
Drinks vending machines
As well as coffee vending machines, a vending machine supplier can offer you a range of bottled juices, soda and flavoured waters. These machines can be refrigerated so you can ring the changes with the seasons, for example offering iced coffees during the summer.
Snack vending machines
With a snack vending machine rental, you can choose the selection to offer, from crisps and chocolate to healthier options such as fresh fruit and natural snacks.
Meal vending machines
Some machines are like chilled rotating cabinets and can be stocked with lunch options such as salads and baguettes and sandwiches. They can also hold drinks to make it a complete food and drink offering.
Micro Markets or Express Hubs
These are relatively new to the UK, and only a few vending machine suppliers have them. Micro markets are almost like having a mini convenience store in your place of work. Three or four vending machine solutions might be placed alongside each other, e.g. a coffee vending machine, a cold drink machine, a fridge of baguettes and a rack of snacks, so people can come and help themselves on their breaks but without the need to staff or equip a full canteen.
Vending machine prices
Each solution is highly customised to the end-user, so it’s very difficult to get a feel for how much a vending machine costs without going through the full quote process with a vending machine supplier. It will depend a lot on the purchase route you choose (hiring a vending machine, leasing a vending machine or buying a vending machine, see more on this below).
At the budget end of hot drinks machines, a vending machine’s price can be as little as £190 to buy outright, whereas for a decent bean to cup coffee vending machine you’re looking at closer to £1,500-£4,000, but of course, the margins differ as well. If you buy a great vending machine, you can charge a premium price.
Comparing vending machine rental quotes from different vending machine suppliers can be a tricky one, as often pricing isn’t transparent and it’s difficult to make direct comparisons. Things to look for when you buy a vending machine include the overall cost of the vending machine, the service level included and the commercial arrangement around consumables (food and drink sold via the machine).
Should you buy or rent a vending machine?
Now you’ve decided to hire a vending machine, and you’ve chosen which vending machine you want, it’s time to decide if you want to buy the vending machine, hire the vending machine, lease the vending machine, or do a vending machine rental.
Hire a vending machine service
Commercial arrangements will vary, but a vending machine supplier will usually quote a vending machine price on a weekly basis. Typically, the business owner will have a full service, paying a set price to have the vending machine on site and will get a cut of the gross sales of the products, anything up to 20% is fairly standard. The cost of maintenance is usually covered in the hire price, but it’s worth checking the terms of this and also the quality of the machine you’ll be getting – is it a new machine or refurbished, as its age and previous use will have a direct bearing on its reliability.
Vending machine rental
Again, how these machines are stocked and who keeps the proceeds will depend entirely on the commercial agreement with the vending machine supplier, but what makes leasing a vending machine different to hiring a vending machine is that at the end of your lease period you will own the machine outright. Typical vending machine rental lengths are 3 to 5 years but can be more or less, and the actual vending machine price will depend on your credit rating. Service levels are again something to be negotiated with your supplier, but it’s usual to have a fairly high standard of cover during the lease period, and an annual service might be included as part of the lease deal.
Buy a vending machine outright
In the long-term, buying a vending machine might be the most economical option but requires a substantial investment upfront. It also usually means that you’re solely reliable for the post-purchase service, paying to fix faults yourself once the machine is out of warranty. If you’re choosing to buy outright, see if the vending machine price can be negotiated with the vending machine supplier based on the consumables agreement – for example, if you agree to buy a set amount of coffee per month (which you’d need to buy anyway), you might be able to get a decent discount to the overall quote.
Who are the best vending machine suppliers?
Bibium will help you get a number of quotes from vending machine suppliers for vending machine rentals and compare them side by side. The vending machine suppliers will be keen to win your business: there are hundreds of vending machine suppliers in the UK, and competition for each deal is fierce. The first vending machine price you get quoted can probably be beaten, though people will tend to compete on different elements of the deal – a cheaper coffee vending machine cost might have been funded by a more expensive service package, or coffee consumables agreement, and vice versa.
A top tip when you buy a vending machine is to get one quote and then use it as a benchmark; try to get the quote as itemised as possible and (as long as there are no contractual reasons why not to do this) then show it to competitors to see where they can beat it.