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Marketing Daily reports that Kraft Foods is partnering with a number of technology companies to test new “touchscreen snack vending machines that offer consumers a variety of interactive features - including instant access to ingredients/ nutrition information - while enabling marketers to deliver animated, video and interactive advertising and targeted promotions ... The machines feature a 46" Samsung LCD touchscreen panel in place of the usual glass facing, an embedded networked computer, and Bluetooth capabilities for mobile downloads. Banner ads stream across the top of the screen, and full-screen ads display when the machine is not in use.

“With a touch of the screen, users can view rotating, 360-degree visuals of snack items and generate ingredients and nutrition details. They can opt to purchase more than one item at a time, and pay by credit card or cash (receiving cash-transaction change back in bills, rather than a cascade of coins).”

The machines are being tested “at colleges and universities, healthcare facilities, transportation hubs and other high-traffic locations in the Boston metropolitan area,” and, according to Marketing Daily, enable the “tracking of all transactions and interactions, which facilitates inventory tracking and as-needed replenishment to avoid sellouts and maximize sales.”
KC's View:
Machines? These aren’t machines. (My toaster is a machine.) These new vending machines are miracles of modern technology! Yikes!

Or, quite seriously, as an expert in this area, Paul Schlossberg, wrote the other day in ‘Your Views,” “We are at the beginning of a new era for vending.”

Of course, I keep thinking about what could happen if I use one of these machines to buy a candy bar (which I shouldn’t be eating anyway). So I put the money (or credit or debit card) in, push the button (or whatever they use for a button on these contraptions), and the candy bar doesn’t come out because of some glitch that seems to affect vending machines. So what do I do? Hit the machine? Kick it? Shake it a bit, hoping to dislodge the candy bar or just make myself feel better? Those would be my normal responses, but in this case I’d be dealing with an expensive piece of modern technology; I’d never think of shaking or kicking my flat screen TV, or my computer, or the Bluetooth connection in my car, if they didn’t work ... but I’m not sure I’ll be so reticent about a computerized marvel in a high traffic location that won;t give me my damn candy bar!

I’m just askin’...

However, to make a serious point... Think about this story within the context of the “Eye-Opener” piece above, which described how a trade magazine almost became obsolete by not embracing technological changes. Could ignoring - or not embracing - the vending revolution have the same impact on food retailers that continue to do business the same old way?

Again, I’m just askin’...