Asian Vending Machines Offer Modern Convenience

Some provide food, drinks and serve as mini 7-Eleven stores.

November 26, 2019

TAIPEI, Taiwan—7-Eleven, the largest c-store chain in Taiwan, has expanded its unmanned store concept by using 140 vending machines to create mini-7-Eleven stores, reports

Typically found in office buildings and at busy train stations, the smart vending machines provide shelf-stable foods, such as chips, cookies, chocolate bars, cakes, jellies, sandwiches, sushi rolls, braised dishes and yogurt, along with bottled water, cola, soda, fresh milk, soybean milk, tea, canned coffee and energy drinks. Generally, the machines sell the most popular food and beverage products, and the content varies slightly at different locations. The machines accept cash, e-payment cards and icash.

Thanks to artificial intelligence (AI) technology, personnel at a traditional 7-Eleven store nearby are alerted when its time to restock the machines.

The trend is popular in other southeast Asian countries as well. In Japan, vending machines are abundant and used regularly. The country has just under 5 million vending machines, according to the Japan Times, a little more than the 4.6 million estimated in the United States. Many sell packs of foods: chips, cookies, candy bars and sodas. Others focus on liquids: hot coffees and teas, soups, fruit juices, water, cold beer and even some mixed cocktails. In Tokyo, vending machines offer a wide range of items, such as diapers, women's underwear, eggs, condoms and even puppies. 

The machines come in different, bright colors to attract attention. One geared toward the Japanese coffee brand, Boss, features the likeness of the company’s longtime spokesman, American actor Tommy Lee Jones.