PPE Vending Machines Have Arrived
Early in the coronavirus pandemic, PPE vending machines began popping up in various European countries. In April, a company called RapidMask2Go installed one in New York City, selling KN95 masks in packs of one, three, five or 10. In May, the company added another machine at a different location. It now has 10 machines in the city.
This is just the beginning of the PPE vending machine boom. RapidMask2Go recently expanded to Philadelphia, placing four machines in Suburban Station, a busy Philly transit hub. According to Billy Penn, those machines sell three-ply surgical masks, hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial wipes, with contactless payment options alongside the usual cash or card. On RapidMask2Go's website, you can buy a vending machine for $7,500.
Others are already getting in on the act. A just-launched company called Philly PPE Vending plans to offer 32-slot vending machines to hospitals, hotels and other high-traffic buildings for free, with a leasing agreement that pays locations up to 10 percent of the profits from each machine. These machines can be stocked with an even larger assortment of products, including non-contact thermometers, sanitizer gel, disinfecting spray and two varieties of face masks.
PPE vending machines aren't an entirely new idea. They've been available for years through industrial and office supply companies, usually stocked with safety items for workers. But the implementation is new. With the now-constant public need for PPE, coupled with increasing mask-wearing regulations across most of the U.S., high-traffic areas are prime spots for machines selling face masks, hand sanitizer and other items.
It also hints at the possibility of branded options. Imagine a PPE vending machine in the lobby of a hotel, decked out in the hotel's branding. Or, better yet, a machine stocked with reusable masks branded with the hotel's logo. Philly PPE Vending already said it plans to add $1 reusable mask options to its machines soon, according to Billy Penn. It wouldn't be a major leap to add a logo to each mask, or to add branded clean key tools, hand sanitizers, etc.
We've seen plenty of instances of vending machines deployed effectively for promotional purposes, so we know they can be a powerful tool for branding. Add in the demand for and steady sales potential of PPE, both branded and unbranded, and you've got a recipe for potential new opportunities for revenue.