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Vending Machine Services: A Buyer’s Guide

Vending Services

Are you looking for an affordable way to provide snack and beverage options to your employees and customers?

Consider vending services.

A vending service supplies businesses with a variety of beverage and snack choices, often at no cost to you.

The Basics

Providing an assortment of food and beverage selections in your office gives employees a reason to stay on site and increases productivity during the work day. In fact, employees view breakroom choices as a perk to employment.

With a vending service, you determine exactly what types of food and beverages you want to make available in your place of business. For example, if you have a small office where most employees bring their lunch, you may decide a beverage vending machine is all you need. You may have noticed that your employees enjoy when snacks are brought in. In that case, consider adding a snack machine to your office breakroom.

If your office is implementing a wellness plan for employees, a vending service even offers healthy food, snack, and beverage options that are lower in calories, carbohydrates, and sugar. Or perhaps you have a larger company and desire to give your employees healthy, complete meal options. The growing world of micro markets offers great variety in a store-like setting within your place of business.

Many industries take advantage of the convenience a vending service provides including:  apartment complexes, car dealerships, factories, hotels, manufacturing plants, office and office buildings, retail stores, schools, sports clubs, and warehouses.

The options in vending services have expanded over the years. Machines have evolved from the classic pull-knob candy machines to modern equipment controlled by microprocessors. Coin operated vending machines have been replaced with cashless machines, where debit/credit cards are used, in order to make getting a snack more convenient. Still, many vending machines will accept a variety of payment forms including coins, cash, credit cards, debit cards, and other electronic forms of payment.

The variety of machines has expanded as well. Besides standard beverage and snack machines, refrigerated machines are increasing in popularity to offer healthier snack options such as fresh fruit, salads, and sandwiches.

And while vending machines are constantly changing, your need for good service is also constant. A vending service affords you all the benefits of a stocked breakroom without the hassle of maintaining a stocked breakroom. From inventory and rotation of products to regular maintenance and service on machines if they break down, a vending service takes care of all the details.

Vending service provides a high level of customer service that tailors a product and service plan to meet the unique needs of your business. Often vending service providers offer other services and can help with your office

Using a vending service to provide food and beverage options to your employees is an important decision in keeping employees happy, healthy, and productive. Whether you choose traditional vending services or the newer micro market option, both offer exceptional choice and convenience to both employer and employees.


Traditional Vending Services

A traditional vending machine is an automated machine that provides snacks or beverages to a consumer after payment has been received by the machine. Most machines take the following forms of payment: a) cash (one and five dollar bills, coins), b) credit card, c) debit card, and d) other forms of electronic payment (such as Samsung Pay or Apple Pay).

When hiring a traditional vending service, the service provider not only installs vending machines at your place of business, but also services those machines on a regular basis. Service includes routine machine maintenance and cleaning, sales tracking, and inventory management. Scheduled route service means your machines stay fully operational and regularly stocked with products of your choice.

Vending service extras

Custom breakrooms

Vending service providers are experts in their field. They will assess your office and/or breakroom space and discuss the overall design and setup you are looking for. They can give your breakroom a unique look with custom-wrapped machines and other design elements.

Do you need a fully-branded look for a customer center? Many vending services offer specialized machine graphic wraps with your company logo or any of your choice. You can build off that graphic and enhance your breakroom or customer center with recommended wall color, flooring, and window treatments to create an integrated space that matches the culture of your company.

Coffee and water service

Many vending service providers also offer coffee and filtered water service as well. Most coffee services include brewing equipment free of charge and supplies are regularly monitored as with vending services. Choices for water service include bottled or bottle-less options. Learn more about these services in our office coffee and water service buyer’s guides.

Breakroom supplies

Some vending services will offer a complimentary microwave and condiments to accompany their machines.

Breakroom supplies include: coffee, tea, sweeteners, stirrers, utensils, napkins, cups, plates, and condiments.

Benefits of vending services

  • Free Installation
  • Free Machines
  • Free Service
  • New Equipment
  • Routine Restocking
  • Various Pricing Models

Traditional Vending Machines

Beverage machines

Beverage machines come in both closed-front and glass-front models. Closed beverage machines serve standard size drinks (such as 12 ounce cans or 20 ounce bottles). A glass-front machine offers easy viewing of beverages, more storage capacity than closed-front, and allows all types and sizes of packaging to be vended.

Cold beverage vending

Cold beverage or soda machines are the most common type of vending machine. The machines use a compressor to cool beverages while being stored. Beverage selections are typically supplied by the three major U.S. bottlers, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and Dr. Pepper/Snapple Group. Most soda machines hold 7-9 selections at a time.

Traditional beverage selections include: soda, sports drinks, juices, energy drinks, water, flavored water, sparkling water, and tea.

Hot beverage vending

Hot beverage machines usually offer two different cup sizes and are prepared upon purchase. Depending on the machine, you may be able to choose your strength and coffee blend. Many vending machines grind beans and brew a fresh cup of coffee every time a selection is made.

Hot beverages include: coffee, tea, hot cocoa, cappuccinos, and lattes.

Snack machines

Snacks have a shorter shelf life than beverages. Therefore, snack machines must either sell a higher volume or inventory must be regularly rotated to maintain freshness. Most vending services carry major national brands of snack products.

Snack goods include: chips, candy, cookies, pastries, granola bars, nuts, trail mix, pretzels, and more.

Fresh foods/healthy vending

To ensure food safety, fresh/healthy vending machines must have a computer-monitored temperature regulation system. The “wellness” culture has taken over the workplace, and providing healthy choices in the office is just one component of encouraging a healthy lifestyle. Healthy employees are more productive, miss fewer days, and can potentially reduce health insurance costs.

Healthy products include: fresh fruit, yogurt, salads, tuna, tea, fitness waters, and other low calorie, low carb, low sugar products.

Frozen food machines

Frozen food machines must maintain a constant temperature to keep foods preserved and meet safety standards. Some vending services will provide a microwave so that vending customers can heat their purchases.

Frozen foods include: packaged meats, sandwiches, wraps, desserts, and ice cream.


  • Multiple payment options
  • Cashless payment
  • Increased productivity
  • Popular product selection
  • Employee supported
  • Improved corporate culture


  • Snagged products
  • Refund hassles
  • Fixed pricing

Micro markets

A micro market is a custom alternative to traditional vending. This vending trend is like having a convenience store set up in the workplace. Employees can come in at any time and choose from a variety of beverages, snacks, complete meals, and more. Items are stocked and rotated on a regular basis.

Micro markets can be adapted to fit your space and number of employees. They have an “open-air” feel where employees choose products from dry good shelving and coolers and check out at self-pay kiosks. Micro markets afford a greater variety of product choice that encompass diverse diet preferences (gluten-free, vegan, etc.).

Micro markets are an impressive employee perk.

How does a micro market work?

Shop.  Select a product or products from the market place.

Scan.  Scan items at the self-checkout kiosk.

Pay.  Pay with cash, debit/credit card, smartphone apps, key tag, or other accepted methods of payment.

Note: Key tags are the perfect way to help employees budget for lunches and snacks. Employers can even add credit to an employee’s account for special occasions.

A micro market is a broad scope vending service, and with more variety comes more oversight. A successful micro market in your place of business will require assigning a designated administrator to review inventory, track items purchased, and monitor reorders and restocking.

Micro market selections include: salads, fresh fruit and vegetables, deli sandwiches and wraps, yogurt, dried fruit, nuts, oatmeal, protein bars, herbal teas, juices, sparkling waters, pretzels, baked chips, and more.


  • Safe and secure: Micro markets are monitored by security cameras during operating hours to ensure food safety and private, secure payment.
  • User-friendly: Modern technology makes it easy to shop and purchase items.
  • Custom designed: Create a unique breakroom experience with eye-catching signs, digital images, and overall breakroom layout.
  • Online inventory management: View real-time account data. Track sales, assess inventory, and replenish supplies online.
  • Flexible: The open market concept allows for a wide variety of food and beverage options, providing plenty of variety to employees and customers.
  • Healthy: Fresh, diverse food options labeled with nutritional information help employees make smart decisions.
  • Convenient: Employees can make purchases any time during office hours. That means shift workers have food and beverage options available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Cost-effective: Help employees stay in budget with pre-paid key tags.


  • Easy pay options
  • Self-checkout
  • Flexible hours
  • Fresh food selections
  • Special diet selections—sugar free, gluten free, vegan
  • Nutritional information included for every product
  • Energy efficient—use less energy than traditional vending machines
  • Hassle-free—no hung products or refund troubles


  • More expensive than traditional vending services
  • Need designated company administrator to oversee fresh food inventory

Installation and Design

A vending service representative will visit your place of business. They will evaluate your breakroom space and provide a micro market design plan. This plan will include all required electrical and data line needs. If the micro market is set up in an existing vending area, usually no electrical adjustments are needed.

Once the layout is approved, it will take the vending service provider approximately 3-6 weeks to take your micro market from installation to being fully operational. The main components of installation include self-pay kiosks, coolers, and dry good shelving. Design components such as specialty lighting and seating will also be added based on your original design. Vending representatives attend the opening of your new micro market to answer questions and explain the purchasing process, and continued support is always available from your vending service provider.

What’s included in the service?

Vending service providers want to establish a long-lasting relationship with your business.  Many vending services are full-service providers. This means they provide and set up the vending machine or micro market and fully stock, monitor, and restock supplies.

A full-service provider will also consult on location and design to make your breakroom or snack area represent your company culture and optimize use. They can recommend how many and what type of machines you need for your office size. Whether you choose traditional vending machines or a micro market concept for your place of business, a vending service takes care of all the details.

A vending service monitors inventory and sales at your place of business. Inventory monitoring is an extra layer of customer service allowing the vending provider to stay better connected with the customer’s needs. The DEX (Digital Exchange) is a protocol for collecting this data from vending machines.

The National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA) used the DEX to establish the Vending Industry Data Transfer Standard (VIDTS) which permits vending machines to communicate their transaction information to vending service drivers’ handheld computers. The vending service will take the data collected from the vending machines and assess which items are low-selling, and switch out or rotate to more popular brands.

Almost all vending machines and services now comply with VIDTS as a means of monitoring and measuring vending data such as cumulative cash in, cash out, and inventory count. This digital connection quickly captures sales data and allows for immediate cash to inventory reconciliation.

For example, a driver begins at the warehouse with the requirements for each machine already loaded on their handheld device. They drive their route, making only one trip to each machine to restock supplies and download inventory data. When the driver returns from the route, they upload data they have received from each machine and the process starts all over again. This detailed and automated method of inventory provides high-quality customer service at a lower price.

Some vending services offer remote machine monitoring (RMM). This means that the vending machine transmits data including inventory count, sales, and mechanical issues directly to the vending provider. With remote monitoring, a vending representative already knows what inventory needs to be restocked or rotated. A vending provider can optimize restocking, eliminate sold out items, improve product selection, and save time and money with RMM.


Size of machines

Most soda vending machines measure approximately 72″H x 39″W x 33″D. Take into consideration space for the door opening as well as room in the back of the machine for the plug and air movement for the compressor. A vending provider can help you assess available space and make recommendations for right type and best size machines.

Size of your business

The size of your business will determine how many and what type of vending machines you need for your office. The number of employees that will use the machines and where the machines will be located are two indicators that quickly govern which type of equipment is optimal. Having 50 people in a place of business is often a starting point to consider offering vending.

Small businesses

Vending services categorize a small business as one with 10-75 employees. A 30-40-person office can support a soda machine. And a hotel needs at least 20 rooms to support a beverage machine. With 50 employees, adding a snack machine is advisable.

Often the best type of equipment for a small business is a combination vending machine. A combination machine sells multiple types of items within the one unit. They are space saving vending machines perfect for a smaller number of employees, a small breakroom, or narrow hallway. For example, you can have a snack/cold drink combination or even a snack/cold drink/hot drink combination.

 Large businesses

Businesses with more than 75 employees will want full-size, individual vending units. With a large business, the vending choices are endless. From traditional snack and drink machines to frozen food machines and even micro markets.

Micro markets

Micro markets can vary in size. A small market can accommodate 20-49 people. Options might include a 48” cooler plus a snack shelving unit. A larger market for 50-100 people would include a larger cooler and larger rack system for snacks.

Product Pricing

When you offer vending services to your employees and customers, most will take advantage of the convenience the machine affords. But how are the products paid for, and who receives profit from the products?

The cost of the products in a vending machine differs based on your geographic location. And pricing for major label beverages are set by the bottler at their national vending rate. Aside from these two boundaries, most vending services officer several pricing options for businesses to choose from.

Standard Vending

The first payment/pricing option is called standard vending. Employees pay the full price of the food or beverage supplied by the vending service. The cost to your business is zero. The vending service will provide the machine(s), installation, maintenance, and inventory. This pricing model is simple and direct. There is no hassle for the employer; vending services are completely controlled by the vending service.

Subsidized Vending

A subsidized vending plan means you, the employer, reduce the price of products by paying a portion out of pocket as a service to your employees. Employers can purchase 25%, 50%, or 75% of the products so employees can enjoy lower prices while sharing the cost. A vending service will stock the machine and collect money from products sold. Then they will send you a monthly invoice for the balance due on the products sold. All vending equipment is installed, maintained, and stocked at no charge. You only pay for a portion of the products. This method is a big favorite of both employers and employees. Many companies view subsidized vending as an employee benefit that costs much less than other company benefits.

Free Vending

Take office perks a step further and offer free vending. Provide employees and customers with free snacks and beverages any time. Employers view free vending as a huge incentive to retain employees and keep them productive. Your business agrees to pay for the cost of all vending products. The vending service will provide, maintain, and stock machines. You will be billed monthly for purchased products.

Employees love the incentive of low-cost or free breakroom treats. Both subsidized and free vending keep your employees happy and in the workplace for more of the day. No longer do they need to leave for a quick cup of coffee or a long lunch break. Build morale and keep productivity high by adding vending services to your workplace.

Profit Sharing

Some vending services offer a profit sharing program. Your business will receive a rebate check from the vending service based on a portion of sales at your location. Profit sharing is based on a percentage of sales and is paid out monthly. Sharing in vending commissions is a fast and easy way to make additional cash for your company. Designate vending profit sharing for company social events, award programs, or charity donations on behalf of your company.

What to look for in vending services

Here are some things to keep in mind when considering vending services:

Route regularity – Your place of business should be stocked and machines maintained on a regular schedule.

Energy efficiency – Look for newer equipment with up-to-date technology. Energy Star vending machines will save money on electricity.

Variety – How many food and beverage companies does the vending services supplier work with? The more suppliers they work with, the wider variety you receive. If you are unsure about what to stock your machines with, suppliers have a standard product mix for snacks and beverage machines. You can tweak options as you go.

Customization – Customize your breakroom with your company logo. Are supplier’s machines identical in height and color? This type of consistency makes a breakroom or snack area attractive. Vending services offer free design consultation.

Healthy options – Does the vending services provider include healthy options with their service?

Remote machine monitoring/Line item sales tracking – Many machines can electronically monitor themselves and transmit equipment and inventory data to vending service providers automatically (remote machine monitoring). This type of tracking system shows when products are running low or not selling. Analyzing sales of individual items makes it easy to switch out low-selling products with more popular choices.

Questions to ask providers

  • What beverage flavors and snack brands are available?
  • How often do you restock supplies?
  • How quickly can you respond to a service call?
  • Can you mix healthy options and regular products in one machine?
  • Can your products work with our office wellness plan?
  • How do you maintain and clean the machines? How often?
  • What’s included with my service?
  • How much will vending services cost?
  • Do you take special requests?
  • Are supplier’s machines identical in height and color?

Frequently asked questions

What’s considered full service vending?

Vending machines or micro-markets will be completely set-up by the service provider. They will also oversee keeping track of inventory, timely restocking, and service and maintenance. If you have multiple machines and one has a problem or malfunction, each machine should have a machine ID number so that you can report on a specific problem.

Where should I place my vending machine(s)?

The goal should be to place the vending machine where it will receive the most foot traffic or in the breakroom for convenience. When you sign up for vending services, a representative can survey your business and make suggestions on the best location.

What is my out-of-pocket cost?

Often, the cost of placing a vending machine in your office is zero. Vending service suppliers will install the machines free of charge. Depending on the set up, the vending service may also stock your machines for free, making their profit from beverages or snacks purchased.

What types of payment do the machines accept?

Most machines will accept coins, cash, debit and credit cards. Some will even take electronic payment such as Samsung Pay or Apple Pay.

Do I need specific electricity?

No, but you do need a dedicated outlet per machine. Most soda vending machines run on 115 volts at about 10.5 amps. Most commercial-grade three prong outlets will offer suitable power to a vending unit. Power consumption tends to run at 3.1 – 4.4 kWh/day for the lighting and 3.5 – 4 kWh/day for the refrigeration. Power consumption varies depending on if the machine is placed inside or outside.

How often should the vending machines be refilled?

A restocking schedule is determined by the number of possible users and then monitored remotely or assessed regularly by your vending service provider. Changes to the restocking schedule can be made as deemed necessary.

How do I choose the right type of vending machine?

A vending service will look at the number of employees and where the machine will be located to determine the right type of machine for your business.

How will employees or customers be reimbursed if an item is paid for but not released?

Some machines refund a user’s money if the machine does not release the product after two tries. Many machines include infrared technology which guarantees an item is dispensed or users get their money back. Other machines will have a refund policy visibly posted on the unit.

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