How To Start a Profitable Vending Machine Business in 2024

how to start profitable vending machine business

Vending Machine Business is a profitable side hustle anyone can easily start and make extra cash. Today we will discuss how to start profitable Vending Machine Business, and its pros and cons. How much do you need to invest, and how much profit can you expect to make? Legal requirements for vending machines business.

United States has around 4 Million vending machines that are generating $20-25 Billion dollars revenue every year. So this is pretty big market to get in easily. Let’s discuss how you can start a profitable vending machine business.

How To Start Profitable Vending Machine Business

The vending machines may seem easy business but there are a lot of variables in this business that you need to consider to start and run a profitable vending machine business. So, let’s discuss them step by step:

1. Understanding the Market

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Market research is the first step in starting any business. So let’s break down the business into small parts and analyze the variables involved in the market. Here is the checklist you can start with for your market research.

  1. Location to place your machines.
  2. Types and vending machines pricing and maintenance cost.
  3. Items you are going to sell.
  4. The average number of people visiting that area.
  5. Rental cost for your vending machine location.
  6. Competition in a particular area
  7. Business Registration.
  8. Insurance
  9. Security in that particular area.

2. Pick the Right Product

Photo by Denny Müller on Unsplash

The second step is to decide the products you are going to sell, the reason why this is very important is because you are going buy the vending machines according to the products you sell, and according to that, you need to place your machine in the right location.

For example, let’s take you to decide to choose the product chips and cold drinks now where are you going to place it? Obviously in the canteen, outside the school, and bus stands where young people are coming and going.

similarly, if you are selling coffee you can place your vending machine in the library, outside the office building, and in the hospital. Also, analyze the trending products that people are buying, and remember the buyer’s choice and choose the high-margin products.

Depending upon the products, your machine cost can also vary like if you are deciding to sell a lot of product varieties, you would need a big one otherwise you can go with the regular size. Make sure you are selling common products because people don’t buy premium products from vending machines.

3. Select the Right Location

Image by MaximilianHemon from Pixabay

The second step to setting up a vending machine is to decide on the right location. You have to analyze the number of people passing through that location, the size of the vending machine you need to place according to the number of people, and the variety of snacks.

You also need to negotiate the rent price for that location, and how much you will pay to place that machine there. Waiting areas such as barbershops bus stations, metro stations, and libraries are some hotspots for vending machines.

Also, make sure it’s not too far away from your location because you need to constantly check the machines whether they need a refill or not, if it is too far maybe your gasoline cast would be more than the revenue generated.

Security is also a concern for the vending machines after all you cannot just leave the thousand-dollar machine lying anywhere. Make sure the location is secure for the vending machine.

Popular Places to set up vending machines:

  1. School, Collages, and Universities
  2. Hospitals
  3. Bus Stands and Bus Stops
  4. Public parks
  5. Shopping Malls
  6. Amusement Parks
  7. Metro Station
  8. Motels
  9. Hostels
  10. Railway Stations

4. Choose the Right Machine

Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

After carefully deciding on the products for your vending machine. Now it is time to choose the right vending machine. Vending machines can vary from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars depending upon the size and functionality.

The more advanced features a vending machine has the more costly it would be for you. For example, a regular coffee vending machine would cost you around $1000 while some popcorn and chips vending machines can cost you around $2000-$3000.

Large vending machines that can sell both snacks and soft drinks can cost around $8000-$9000. It would help if you also considered the maintenance cost for these machines this is part of the research.

1. Different Types of Vending Machines Available

Here are some very common and beginner-friendly Vending machines that are very popular in the United States.

1. Soft Drink vending machine

Soft drinks are the primary items that make the most sales in the vending machine, Soft vending machines dispense drinks like soda cans, Pepsi, Coca-Cola, and other items that come under soft drinks.

2. Snacks Vending Machine

As the name suggests, snack vending machines dispense only snacks like chips, some popular items for snack vending machines are chocolate bars, candy, crackers cookies, etc. Sometimes you will be able to realize the best-selling items in a particular location and you can stock your machine according to consumers’ preferences.

3. Coffee Vending Machine

The coffee vending machine dispenses coffee. Coffee vending machines are cheap and easy to operate. You can get a new coffee vending machine on eBay under $1000.

4. Combo Vending Machines

Combo Vending machines can sell both drinks and snacks, these types of machines are very popular in the market because of the wide variety of items that they can sell.

Most of the vending machine sales come from drinks and snacks, so it’s very convenient for owners to install a combo vending machine to maximize their revenue and profit.


Ice cream-sending machines dispense ice cream and frozen desserts. An ice cream vending machine can cost you up to $4000 for a new one.

You need to note that the ice cream maker vending machine and frozen dessert ice cream are two different machines.

Just look for machines that have good reputations and reviews. Please do not buy the machine until you have the location to install it.

3. Financing for Your Small Business

You can either buy a new vending machine, buy a used one, rent or finance it. After all, there are no hard and fast rules for buying new machines all that matters is whether it’s working or not. Here are 2 common methods to buy machines if you have a tight budget.

1. Small Business Loans

After you register your business successfully you can apply for business loans. loans are excellent options for business owners who are running on a low budget, if you are thinking about buying machines in bulk small loans are great options that can be paid in 2-3 years easily.

2. lease

leasing is also a good option for people who don’t want to go for loans. You can form a lease contract where you can pay after a certain duration to rent the vending machine.

Lease agreements typically last 2-5 years. and you have to pay the monthly installments to the leasing company, and you will get full ownership of the machine for that duration.

4. Traditional vs Modern Machines

What has changed since the start of the vending machines? Nothing? well, a few things have changed in recent years, now vending machines have become smarter. How so? More than 90% of the machines in America are using the same technology that they were using in the last decade.

But today 10% of machines are embedded with the latest tools and technology and the biggest revelation is the payment system. Today vending machines are using the latest payment technologies like Paypal, credit card,s and other cashless forms of money.

Machines are connected with the wifi and you can adjust the temperatures and other functionalities from your home computer and receive payment directly in your account.

5. Install and Stock up

Now you have bought the machine it’s about time to install the machine in the decided location and buy the items that you are going to stock in the machine.

Vending Machines are heavy so you should hire someone to place the machine in the right location, it would cost a few extra bucks but it’s necessary. It’s better to pay the moving company.

6. Investment and Profit Expectations

As we already discussed vending machine business is low investment business but how much does it cost?

It depends upon the machine you are buying. You can buy a used machine on eBay for $3000-4000. Or you can go for a new one, it would cost you about $3000-$4000. It would cost $400-$500 for products you are stuffing inside the machine.

Machine Cost: $3500

Product Cost: $400

Total Investment: ~$4000/ machine

If we talk about the profitability of the vending machine business, It can vary based on different factors like the location of the vending machine, and the product your machine is selling. According to Chris Bracher on Quora (a vending machine business owner) a machine selling soda cans can make an average of $150 per month.

This profit varies on location the more populated a place is the more sales it’s going to make hence more profit. Overall we can assume that the vending machine business is profitable.

7. Follow the rules and regulations

To run a vending machine business smoothly you need to follow the rules and regulations for that particular state like business registration, license and permits, sales tax, and also you need a food and beverages license. Insurance is also an important part of your business.

You can register your vending machine business as an LLC which will allow you to open business accounts and protect personal assets. It would also allow you to get easy credits.

8. How to Increase Sales and Boost Profit

Sales are a very important aspect of any business, if your business is not getting sales, you will be out of business very soon. Here are some experts advice you should follow to increase your sales.

  1. Keep up with the consumer’s demand: people’s preferences keep changing with time and mood so you have to take notes from the market which product is selling more and focus on that.
  2. If you like the product doesn’t mean everyone will like it: keep your personal preferences aside from the business and follow the market demand. there are many times when you are obsessed with the product and want to sell that product badly, but that doesn’t mean everyone will have the same preference as you.
  3. Brand your Business: Most people think that marketing is not important in the vending machine business but let me tell branding will make you stand out from your competitors and build a customer’s trust.
  4. Keep up with the stock: There are many times your machine will run out of products, and from that moment you will start losing customers, it might not seem much but if you take it every month, your business is losing money continuously.
  5. Use advance payment machines: While buying the machines you should make sure that the machines you have are accepting the latest form of payments like credit cards, cashless transactions, and cash. It was found that the machines that are using cashless payment modes have increased their sales more than the traditional machines.
  6. Diverse Range Of Products: Use different product varieties to attract more customers to your machines, don’t stock up your machines with the same product category you should sell soft drinks and snacks together.
  7. Sell Healthy Snacks: the market is fed up with unhealthy products so you can focus on healthy snacks, in recent times people become more and more concerned about their health, You can fulfill their demands, in recent times demand for healthy snacks skyrocketed, and you can catch this trend and boost sales.

Benefits of Vending Machine

There are many benefits of starting a vending machine business:

  1. The vending machine business is scalable, you can start this business with a few thousand and scale up to hundreds of thousands of dollars, there are already many people doing this. You can check them out here.
  2. You can start a vending machine business with little investment like $6000-$7000. this is why this vending machine business is popular among small businesses.
  3. You can start a vending machine along with your full-time job. Since vending machines don’t require constant care you can stack up your machine and check once or twice in a week.
  4. Anyone can start this business from a kid to a housewife. since there is not much technical knowledge required.
  5. Vending Machines are quick and easy to set up and require low maintenance.
  6. Vending machine runs 24/7 means your business is always open and doesn’t require any extra staff.

Some Drawbacks of Vending Machine

Although there are many benefits of the vending machine business, there are some misconceptions about it too like :

  1. Many people think starting a vending machine is a get-rich-quick scheme where they buy a vending machine out of it and next week they can quit their job. However this is not the case, the vending machine business takes time to set up and make consistent money. It can take around 1.5-2 years to establish a profitable vending machine business.
  2. A vending machine is a highly competitive business because of the low investment cost. It has become difficult for new entrepreneurs to enter the business.
  3. You need a constant electricity supply to run the vending machine smoothly, no electricity no business.
  4. Since vending machines are placed mostly in public places there are chances that people might vandalize them during protests which would be a direct loss for the owners.
  5. Vending machines often face technical glitches of which you might face some losses so you need to monitor and maintain them which would be an extra cost.


Overall vending machine business is a lucrative opportunity to start getting your hands on a small business. Despite having some challenges like maintenance, stocking, and competition, By adapting to consumer preferences you can bet your competitors in this field. I hope now you have an idea of how to start profitable vending machine business.


Are vending machines still a profitable business?

Yes, the Vending Machine Business is Still Profitable. You can easily make $100-150 per month per machine. This might not be much but this amount multiplies as you increase the number of machines.

How Difficult is it to set up a Vending Machine?

Setting up a vending machine is quite easy. You need a place vending machine and some stocks to fill up the machine.

Is buying used vending machines a good Idea?

Buying vending machines from eBay can be a good investment sometimes, it would be better to check it yourself.

Can I start a Vending Machine Business with $0

No, although vending machine business requires low investment that doesn’t mean that you don’t need any money. You must have at least $4000 to set up a single unit.

Hello, I'm Praveen, a seasoned blogger with a rich background spanning 3 years. My niche revolves around small business, startups, and novel money-making concepts. Dive into my blog for expert insights, practical tips, and inspiring stories tailored to fuel your entrepreneurial spirit. Let's navigate the dynamic world of business together, turning ideas into profitable ventures.

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