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China, Japan driving surge in rapid smart vending machine sales

China, Japan driving surge in rapid smart vending machine sales

The deployment of smart vending technologies will surge in the Asia-Pacific as high-tech unmanned retail continues to attract major investment.

The demand for technology-driven frictionless retail experiences, combined with cheap production costs and limited data privacy barriers, is driving rapid adoption in China, Japan, and South Korea, leaving the rest of the world behind, according to a report by ABI Research.

By 2023, the Asia-Pacific will be home to more than 1 million automated retail units and 4.5 million smart vending machines, the market-foresight advisory firm concludes.  

"The initial growth rate of automated retail units in the Asia-Pacific market, driven primarily by China, has already been astonishing and will continue to grow exponentially over the next five years,"said Nick Finill, senior analyst at ABI Research.

"This will create a vast regional disparity in adoption figures, largely a result of technological and societal factors. Ultimately it signals a strong future for smart retail in East Asia,"he said.

But the unprecedented growth of automated retail units in Asia is just half of the smart vending story. Intelligent vending machine trends also indicate how the wider smart vending market is gravitating eastwards. While North America is currently home to 76 per cent of total smart vending machines, by 2023 China will become the primary market for intelligent vending machines.

Smart vending is emerging as an additional retail channel offering unique benefits versus traditional brick and mortar retail and e-commerce. Intelligent vending machines and automated retail units, equipped with advanced customer and operational analytical capabilities, offer immediate convenience to the customer while enabling additional revenue streams to be exploited by operators and partners.

"Successfully entering new markets, attracting new customer segments, monetising data, and cutting operating costs can all be achieved simultaneously in addition to profiting from direct product sales," said Finill.

"Smart vending is therefore not just a powerful retail channel for the customer, but also potentially a valuable marketing tool for retailers and brands."