Skip to content

How to use a food vending machine: Navigating snack & beverage options

Food vending machines have come a long way from dispensing simple snacks and drinks. Modern smart vending machines offer a wide range of nutritious options, making them a convenient choice for healthy eating on the go. This guide will help you navigate a snack and beverage vending machine, highlighting how to select the best snack and beverage options while understanding the advanced features that make these machines a game-changer in convenience and health.

1. The evolution of the snack and beverage vending machine

The evolution from traditional to smart snack and beverage vending machines reflects significant advancements in technology and consumer preferences. These modern machines not only offer a wider variety of healthier options but also provide a more engaging and efficient consumer experience. Below are the key differences one needs to know about the traditional and smart machines.

Traditional snack and beverage vending machines:

  • Limited offerings: Historically, traditional snack and beverage vending machines have been limited in their offerings. They primarily stocked high-calorie snacks such as chips, candy bars, and sugary drinks. These items were convenient to stock in traditional machines, not able to handle expiry dates, but often lacked nutritional value.
  • Basic technology: Traditional machines operated on a straightforward mechanical or simple electronic basis, with limited interaction between the consumer and the machine. Purchases were typically made using coins or bills, and the selection process was manual, with users pressing buttons to select items.
  • Static inventory: The inventory in traditional machines was static, meaning the same products were available until manually restocked. There was no dynamic adjustment based on sales data or consumer preferences, leading to potential issues with stale products or items running out of stock.

Smart snack and beverage vending machines:

  • Diverse and healthy options: Smart vending machines have revolutionized the industry by being able to offer a broader range of products, including healthier options such as fresh fruit, salads, yogurt, smoothies, and low-calorie beverages. This shift caters to the growing demand for nutritious and diverse snack options.
  • Advanced technology: Equipped with top screens or touch screens for advertising, product catalogs, and dynamic pricing, smart vending machines use advanced technology to enhance the consumer experience. These screens display product information, prices, and promotions, making it easier for users to make informed choices.
  • Real-time inventory management: Smart vending machines are connected to the cloud, allowing for real-time inventory tracking and management. This connectivity ensures that the merchant is informed and able to restock the machines with fresh products and reorder items when inventory is low. It also enables dynamic pricing strategies, such as discounts on nearing-expiry items to reduce waste.
  • Interactive features: The top or touch screens on smart vending machines are not just for displaying static content. They can be used for interactive advertising, engaging consumers with videos and promotions that can influence purchasing decisions.
  • Cashless and contactless payments: Modern vending machines support various payment methods, including mobile payments and contactless cards. This flexibility makes transactions quicker and more convenient, aligning with current consumer preferences for touchless interactions.
  • Sustainability initiatives: Smart vending machines contribute to sustainability by implementing features such as real-time monitoring and dynamic discounting to reduce food waste. They are often designed to be energy-efficient, further supporting environmental goals.

    Sallad provided from a smart snack and beverage vending machine

2. Choosing healthy snack and beverage options

To make healthy choices as a consumer, there are a few things you can look out for when selecting items from a smart snack and beverage vending machine:

Check nutrition information through health labels or interactive features

  • Health labels: In most modern smart snack and beverage vending machines, you can freely open the door to explore the products. Pick up the products and check for items labeled as low-sugar, gluten-free, or high-protein, depending on your needs and preferences.
  • Interactive features: Smart vending machines, equipped with touch screens or connected to mobile applications, often provide nutrition information directly to consumers through these channels as well.

Utilize the machine's features:

  • Product catalog on top screen: Look at the top screen, or touch screen if the machine has one, to browse the product catalog, prices, and available discounts. While it may not always show nutritional information, it can help you find and select healthier items.
  • Personalized recommendations: Some smart vending machine solutions can provide personalized recommendations through a connected mobile app. While this feature may not be available in all smart vending solutions, it can help you discover healthier choices tailored to your preferences when it is. Let's explore the topic of personalization further in the next section.

3. Helping consumers make informed choices with AI

With the evolvement of smart vending machines, it is becoming increasingly easier for consumers to make informed and healthy choices. Access to real-time data, ability to combine data sources, and AI evolvement, is starting to enable vending machine operators to provide consumers with personalized recommendations.

Personalized recommendations:

  • Advanced snack and beverage vending machines can provide personalized snack suggestions through an associated mobile app, all based on consumers’ previous purchases.
  • Personalized recommendations, driven by AI, can enable consumers to discover new healthy options that also align with their dietary preferences.

Real-time benefits:

  • Smart snack and beverage vending machines use real-time data to keep track of stock levels and freshness.
  • This ensures that consumers always have access to fresh and high-quality products.

Data from a smart snack and beverage vending machine being transferred to the Selfly Cloud

4. Cashless and contactless payments

The smart snack and beverage vending machine ensures a smooth payment experience by making it swift and contactless. The modern snack and beverage vending machine supports various payment methods, including mobile payments and contactless cards. While the payment landscape in Europe is highly fragmented where different options are preferred in different countries or regions, Selfly Store constantly work on integrating additional payment options into our offering.


5. Environmental impact and sustainability

With over one-third of the total food production wasted along the value chain each year, minimizing food waste at the retailer and consumer levels is crucial. Modern snack and beverage vending machines play a significant role in addressing this issue. Here’s how these advanced machines contribute to reducing food waste and promoting sustainability:

  • Real-time monitoring and dynamic discounting for nearing-expiry items help reduce food waste.
  • The modern snack and beverage vending machine can automatically adjust prices to encourage the purchase of soon-to-expire items.
  • AI functionality can guide merchants and operators to refill their machines with the right items at the right time, avoiding possible expiry and waste.
  • Tools, like the Selfly Store Refill Planner, help operators create efficient refill plans, reducing unnecessary trips and ensuring machines are restocked with the right quantities of fresh products, further promoting sustainability.


6. The future of snack and beverage vending machines

As our lives become increasingly busy, grab-and-go shopping will play a more prominent role in society, catering to the demand for convenient options wherever we are. Here are some upcoming innovations and trends to look forward to:

Possible upcoming innovations

  • Advanced AI integration: The development and implementation of AI will take consumer personalization and recommendations to the next level. AI will also help merchants streamline their operations, manage inventory more efficiently, and provide enhanced user experiences for consumers.
  • Health and wellness apps: The integration of health and wellness apps that sync with snack and beverage vending machines will allow consumers to track their nutritional intake, helping them make healthier choices and maintain their dietary goals.
  • Interactive features: The future snack and beverage vending machine may offer even more interactive features, such as augmented reality (AR) displays and gamified purchasing experiences. These enhancements will make the buying process more engaging and enjoyable for consumers.


Smart snack and beverage vending machines are transforming the way we eat on the go, offering healthier options through advanced technology. By making informed choices and utilizing these modern machines, consumers can enjoy convenient access to nutritious snacks and beverages while supporting sustainability efforts.


Read more