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10 Types of Vending Machines

Updated on March 29, 2013

What Are The Types of Vending Machines?

There plenty of different products and ways they can be vended. Therefore there are at least a few ways to categorize them. Here I present you with 10 types according to the products vended and describe each of them in more detail.

1. Coffee and other hot drink vending machines

Overview: hot drinks are the most popular vended items in the UK, partly because 60% of vending machines are now found in workplaces. More than 8 million cups of coffee and 2 million cups of tea are sold on a daily basis. The drink selection continues to increase rapidly and during the last few years there has been a significant increase in larger drink size popularity. UK people want quality and they want more of it, with 9oz or even 12oz cups becoming the norm. Also some vending machines in the UK are starting to grind their own coffee beans, ending a long-lasting instant coffee reign.

Most popular: coffee
Other hot drinks include: tea, hot chocolate, soup

2. Soda and other cold drink vending machines

Overview: cold drinks can be dispensed together with hot ones but it’s better to have separate vending machines for each of them as then customers can choose from a wider array of drinks. It is good to have at least 6 different drinks, preferably of well-known brands, to suit each taste. Paying attention to these factors only can increase your sales well over 30%. Given the fact that this is the most popular product category in the UK, every decision you make can lead to big profits.


Conveyor dispensing mechanism is advised for standalone vending machines to make sure that sodas don’t get shaken up from falling to the delivery bin. An alternative is to use unlockable doors and let the customer pick the product, just like most newspaper machines do. As this is a safety concern, such method is not recommended for public places.


Most popular: soda
Other cold drinks include: ice tea, juice, milk and milkshakes

3. Snack and sweet vending machines

Overview: snack vending machines, while serving virtually any type of sweet or savoury snack, can also serve as cold drink dispensers in bottles, cans or even tetra pack. This can be a potential combination of two of UK’s most popular vended products. The snacks usually include different types of crisps, pastries, ice-cream, candies, sweets, and such. If you decide to dispense both snacks and drinks, the option of setting up different temperatures comes handy. This also helps during season change.

Most popular products: crisps, candy bars, m&m’s
Other: nuts, biscuits, pastries, candies

4. Ice cream and frozen food vending machines

Overview: ice cream vending machines are definitely the ones most sough after during hot summer days and frozen food is a good option for those wanting more than just a snack as the dispensed product can be microwaved to a nice hot meal. There is also an option to combine these machines making it an always full freezer.

Most popular: ice cream and ice cream shakes
Other products: nuts, biscuits, pastries, candies

5. Food vending machines

Overview: food vending machines are categorized into those that serve hot and cold or refrigerated food as this means that additional technologies might need to be used instead of just a simple refrigerant to keep the products cool. This also means less power consumption compared to the frozen food products.

Just like any other, food vending machines can be combined with can-bottled drinks or other types of snacks, such as crisps, making them a universal lunch content provider.

Even though some of the products might arrive pre-made, they are enclosed tightly, meaning the freshness remains for up to 14 days which is considered a good shelf life among professional vendors. Also as food safety laws in UK are pretty strict, you can be sure that every hot food vending machine dispenses food safe meals.

Most popular: sandwiches
Other foods: pizzas, soups, salads, pastas, burgers

Gumball machine

6. Gumball and novelty machines

Overview: a treat for the kids, these machines are usually found in shopping malls, amusement parks and other entertainment venues with high family traffic. Being low in cost and small in size, they can also be easily rented for parties and birthdays. Due to their cheap and small products, they have lower safety requirements and therefore are cheaper themselves.

Usually they accept coins exclusively, sometimes only of particular type as they mostly sell one product, although there can be various other models that combine several vending machines on one stand or rack. As kids that don’t know how to read might use them trying to put in different kinds of coins, gumball and novelty vending machines are built in such way that, in such cases, they do not vend the product and give back the coin.

As someone might try to shake them, these machines come with additional weight, no sharp edges and shatter-proof globes.

Most popular: gumballs, capsules
Other novelties: bouncy balls, tatoos/stickers

7. Water coolers and ice dispensers

Overview: various coolers are available nowadays. The wall mounted coolers are one of the most popular water dispensers or coolers. They simply need to be connected to the water supply and electricity is required to cool the water. The filter is also fixed which brings you purified water for maximum refreshment. These filters can be 100% recyclable, helping sustain the environment.

And what if you have been visited by some unexpected guests, you go to the kitchen, check the refrigerator only to find you are out ice or the ice tray has not made it yet? Therefore having an ice dispenser at home can be a life saver. This standalone appliance can be really helpful in both homes and offices as it is crucial for every catering venue. It can also be combined with water dispenser, making it a really universal appliance.

Most popular: water and ice
Other products: icy water, watery ice

8. Medicine and hygiene products

Overview: there are various types of vending machines we usually see wall-mounted at the wash-room. These include one or more types of condoms, tampons, hand cleaners, baby changing essentials and other hygiene products. Most of them are battery run to make the installation more convenient. Though due to the increasing positive response from the clients and their needs growing, soon we can see standalone vending machines that sell hygiene products in UK.

As of their types, usually there are single and dual column versions of them for an increased product choices. Yet if there is a demand, machines with up to 10 columns can also be installed. The system that dispenses the product can be either mechanical or electronic, usually depending on the amount of products to be vended. For single or double column machines, mechanical system is commonly used as it’s cheaper. For vending a few different products, electronic systems of added complexity are used.

Most popular: condoms, woman’s hygiene
Other products: soap, toothbrushes, aspirin, antacids, lip balm

9. Healthy vending machines

Overview: although this category contains various drinks, snacks, and foods, they are usually sold separately with a “healthy food” brand. These types of vending machines can store healthy drinks (water, juice) or healthy snacks (fruits, vegetables, whole grain cereals, unsalted nuts etc.). Of course that usually means you have to change the products more often due to their faster expiration, nevertheless this might end up being the right solution if people who use that machine care about themselves.

Most popular: milk and milk products, crisps and nuts
Other products: fruit, vegetables, whole grain cereals

Newspaper vending machine

10. Custom vending machines

Overview: Designed for specific brands and specific needs. You tell us your product, we design a vending machine for it that also pleases your eye. Custom vending machines can be small (wall-mounted) or as large as a full vending line depending on the products it sells. The products sold in custom vending machines vary from mail, newspapers, lottery tickets to cologne, sex toys or DVDs to name but a few.

Most popular: newspapers, DVDs
Other products: stamps, perfume, sports inventory

Concluding remarks

So here are the 10 types of vending machines. As you may see, this only one of the ways to categorize them. Vending machines can also be differentiated by the way they dispense the products or by their size. See the future posts to find out more about the world of vending! In the meantime, you can check http://uk-vending-machines.co.uk for more interesting facts.

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    • profile image

      yeah 3 years ago

      dgeyfgeuf

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      interested 4 years ago

      Interesting and useful, thanks!

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      Venduser 4 years ago

      That was interesting, thanks!