Vending machines occupy a unique and, potentially, highly lucrative business niche. They combine the convenience of online shopping with the immediacy of real-world shopping. As such, they can make great businesses for both full and part-time entrepreneurs. With that in mind, here is a quick guide to starting a vending machine business in the UK.
Start with the location
Find a great location for your vending machine(s) and let that drive all other business decisions. Remember, at the end of the day, vending machines are essentially a form of retail. Customers must be able to see your products before they can even start to think about buying them. Then they must be able to use your vending machine comfortably to make a purchase. That means visibility and accessibility should be your prime considerations.
Decide what you are going to sell
One of the great advantages of vending machines is that you can stock them with a wide range of products. That said, you generally want there to be some kind of cohesive theme running through your stock. A lot of the time, your location will largely determine, or at least influence, your choice of merchandise.
For example, if you were siting a vending machine in a gym, you could sell snacks (pre- and post-workout), drinks, items gym-goers might have forgotten (deodorant) and items to keep people entertained while they are waiting in the public area (e.g., parents waiting for children in classes).
If, however, you are stuck for ideas, then just take a look at the many franchise opportunities available to vending-machine entrepreneurs. You may find one which is just right for you. Even if you don’t, you may find the inspiration you need to choose your products.
Get your paperwork in order
Wherever you put your vending machine and whatever you decide to sell, you can take it as read that you’re going to need permission from somebody. If you’re putting your vending machine in someone else’s property, then you’ll need their permission. You may also need permission from your local council. It generally makes sense to start this process as quickly as possible as administration can take a while.
Choose your supplier(s)
One of the advantages of going with an established franchise is that your supplier is pretty much sorted for you. That said, the internet has made it a whole lot easier to find your own without a franchise behind you.
Obviously, you need to be sure that your supplier’s products are of appropriate quality. You also need to ensure that they are totally reliable. Remember, a vending machine is only profitable when it’s stocked. If its compartments are empty for an extended period, then you could even find yourself losing money. In short, choose your supplier with care.
Remember the basics of retail
Market and advertise your vending machine as much as you can. Be prepared to provide customer service when required. Keep in mind that there are going to be problems from time to time. You might want to think about learning how to do maintenance and basic repairs yourself. Have a plan to get help quickly if a problem is beyond your skill.
Cema Vending are specialists vending machine suppliers and have been for over 15 years. Cema Vending are the place to go for businesses looking for a range of stylish, modern snack, water and coffee vending machines.
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