Vending machines have long been the conveyance of choice for the thirsty (soft drinks), the hungry (Cheese Doodles), the desperate (condoms), and the busy (most of us). All a person needed was some change or a couple of dollars and, voila, they could satisfy their need with unhealthy or substandard goods.
Now, thanks to credit cards and technology, vending machines are becoming a new way to dispense high value goods. At least that is what an interesting article in the New York Times tells us. Entitled, "The New Touch-Face of Vending Machines" it informs us that everything from quality cosmetics to gold are being dispensed in what are now being referred to as "automated retail stores."
The new machines are designed to "…bridge the gap between old-fashioned stores and online shopping." Here is how the article puts it:
Vending machines in neon-splashed Tokyo have electronic eyes that evaluate customers’ skin and wrinkles to determine whether they are old enough to buy tobacco. In bathrooms at upscale Canadian bars, vending machines with flat irons enable women to defrizz their locks. In Abu Dhabi, the lobby of a luxury hotel has a vending machine that dispenses
gold bars and coins at more than $1,000 an ounce.
Why is this development important for the toy industry? That’s in my next posting.