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Vending Machines May Just Catch On

13 May, 2003 By: Holly J. Wagner

As much as I love the idea of video vending machines, at least for certain locations, I've heard a lot of naysaying from folks in the industry and had some doubts myself.

On the other hand, an online poll we conducted in this space a couple of weeks ago, added to the handful of letters I have received from folks interested in breaking into video vending, make me think this really could be the next wave. Not the whole ocean, but the next wave.

In the poll, 28.16 percent of respondents said machines would be a good way to extend hours; 29.13 percent saw it as a good way to extend a store's geographic reach; 26.21 percent said the ROI just wouldn't be there; but only 16.5 percent said video vending machines will just never catch on.

People are skeptical of the concept here in the U.S., but those who have spent time abroad recently are much more interested, mainly because they have had a chance to see the machines in action in other countries. It seems the machines sell themselves once dealers (or potential dealers) see them in action.

What may be problematic for our industry is that folks in so many other industries, like convenience stores, markets and even gas stations, see them as the latest and possibly best way to offer the hottest consumer product around – DVD – with minimal hassles. That means people in a lot of other industries see making DVD rental easy as the best way to increase traffic at unrelated businesses.

Video specialty dealers have always had to face a certain amount of competition from grocers and onesy-twosy stores that seem to carry everything but specialize in nothing. But it's not hard for me to see video vending machines making inroads into places where no video has ever gone before.

How about the beauty shop? How many people would consider titles to rent while getting a haircut, knowing they could choose while waiting for their nails to dry?

What about restaurants? Dinner and a movie has long been a favored date night pairing. I doubt we'll see a video machine at every Denny's any time soon, but certainly a lot of mid-level restaurant chains like Mimi's, Coco's and pretty much anyplace else that gives kids coloring placemats and crayons are candidates. Busy parents + rambunctious kids = an opportunity to sell a little more convenience – not to mention creating a reason to come back, at least to the restaurant lobby. If they figure out how to make the machines ATMs as well as rental destinations, that could really spell trouble.

Vending machines may never squeeze out traditional video stores, but it's a sector to watch. If not for expansion, then for encroachment..

Since I've had so many requests for more information on the machines, here are a few Web sites to visit so you can decide for yourselves:

DVDPlay, dvdplay.net
Giant Video Limited (MovieMat), moviemat.co.il
Novetix Corp. (MediaVendor), mediavendor.com
TikTok DVDShops, tiktokeasyshop.com
V&L Tool Co., vltool.com
Video Access Computers/Video USA, vac247.com
Video Vending North America (CineVault, MuVi), vvna.com

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