Custom Vending Machines

Today, all over the world, upscale automated retail centers offer shoppers the ability to purchase unique items in locations where they would not normally be found.

In the lobby of a luxury hotel stands a machine that dispenses gold bars and coins. In bathrooms at upscale bars, vending machines with hair products enable women to get a mini beauty treatment before heading back on to the dance floor. And at the Los Angeles Airport, people can soon download movies to a portable flash drive that will play on their computer.

But don’t call them vending machines… these automated retailing centers feature stylish architecture and graphics, and have interactive touch screens that entice, entertain, and inform.

What drives this quest for automation? The answer is simple, according to Shannon Illingworth, the founder of AVT – one of the nation’s leading developers of automated retailing systems. “For consumers it’s about convenience and a fun shopping experience. For retailers it’s about lowering costs, expanding product lines, increasing distribution, and reducing shrinkage.”

AVT, which makes some of the newest high tech self-service retailing kiosks, recently completed an order for a beautiful aluminum and glass tower that dispenses electronics such as cell phones, iPods, and portable satellite navigation systems. Illingworth stated that the system is a huge hit – especially with the younger generation.

The economics make it easy to see why. Mall stores produce about $330 a square foot a year, while a 28-square-foot kiosk can generate $3,000 to $10,000 a square foot a year, according to some reports.

Does this mark the end of the retail store? Hardly, states Illingworth. Just as DVDs didn’t end movie theaters, automated retailing won’t replace brick and mortar stores. “We complement the store by offering an interesting variety of products to a captivated audience in locations that are not normally served,” he stated. “We’re the icing on the retailer’s cake.”

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