Eyecare Trends- Vending Machines

The Optical Journal - Optical News With Independent Views

Several Years ago we did a post on Eyeglass Vending Machines, due to a company called Opti-Vend, a vending machine company that will allow the consumer to buy prescription contact lenses through a kiosk and with a prescription card. The plan is to put these in airports and malls, where people might need emergency contact lens. This is the latest idea from Innovative Vending Solutions– a vending company that will make up vending machines to suit your needs.

In an industry that employs nearly 1 in 10 Americans and has long been a reliable job generator, companies increasingly are looking to peddle more products with fewer employees. Shipping and warehousing workers are being replaced by robots that can process packages more efficiently than humans. Virtual assistants are taking the place of customer service representatives. Kiosks and self-service machines are reducing the need for checkout clerks.




Vending machines now sell iPods, bathing suits, gold coins, sunglasses and razors; some will even dispense prescription drugs and medical marijuana to consumers willing to submit to a fingerprint scan. And shoppers are finding information on touch screen kiosks, rather than talking to attendants. March 04, 2011|By Alana Semuels, Los Angeles Times

‘The timing couldn’t be better for the $11.3-billion vending machine industry. More than 90% of vending revenue comes from snacks, candies and beverages, but those sales have been declining in recent years. Sales at machines that sell nonfood products (excluding cigarettes) have been growing, according to IBISWorld. Already, vending machines are used to sell such things as $2 shaving kits and $400 electronics, building familiarity with consumers. It’s not difficult to imagine more shoppers embracing the utility of making a purchase through a vending machine, especially when so many are comfortable shopping online with a computer……Anything that’s moving toward vending makes sense for consumerism,” he said. “It’s quick and it’s done.” January 2011

As you can see by the above articles, optical vending machines have more merit today than they did 2 years ago when we first posted.

I could see an optical retailer putting an optical vending machine in theme parks, stadiums, tourists, shops, hotels, malls, airports, convention centers, with products such as eyeglass repair kits, cases, eyeglass cords, micro-fiber cleaning cloths, lens cleaners, contact lens cases and solutions, readers, visors, fitovers,  but contact lenses?  I could also see teaming up with a dentist for floss, toothbrushes, toothpaste to put together a vending machine in those areas. But still- contact lenses?

It’s something to think about- As a frequent traveler, I can’t tell you how many times I would have wanted the convenience of a vending machine at my hotel to purchase a mini-screwdriver or even a pair of sunglasses (which I have lost). If you think about the number of hotels, motels, campgrounds that don’t have a gift shop or not located by a store- they would probably welcome the opportunity to provide this type of service to their guests.