Confectious Concoctions

Vendo-News: Newspaper Vending Machines Starting to Accept Cards

Posted on: July 8, 2010

When I first moved to KC, just about every Sunday I would take 5 quarters out of my laundry fund and march down to the corner, usually still in my pajamas, not really caring about what state my hair was currently in, and get my Sunday Kansas City Star. I didn’t actually read the paper … well … except for the funnies, the crossword and jumble, and the occasional local section. No sirree. I was after the coupons.

But sometimes I didn’t have any quarters, or other acceptable monetary units, for that corner newspaper vending machine that I almost lost my hand in on more than one occasion. And sometimes it ate my coins. Which, when you’re just out of college, each nickel, dime or quarter is more like a dollar. And I often thought how great it would be if these coin-and-finger-eating antiques could take cards. Parking meters were beginning to. The rest of society, retail-wise, was moving towards a credit/debit card-centric system. I mean, who carries cash with them nowadays? So, why couldn’t newspaper vending machines (and, on a tangent, why can’t every sort of vending machine take cards)?

Well, they are starting to, now, with not a huge amount of success, I’m surprised to learn. According to this AdAge article, the Wall Street Journal added this capability to 190 of its NYC vending machines to keep the machines relevant and the paper more accessible in hopes of stimulating trial readership. Tribune Co. has also been testing the last 6 months, but seeing flat to slightly up sales.

But unless one is walking the streets, or had developed a habit of purchasing papers from the machines, how would they know this was available to them? I mean, I don’t live in NY or anything, but I have to believe some sort of awareness campaign needs to be implemented to stimulate machine purchases.  Granted, these purchases typically account for only 5 or less percent of annual sales, but an increase is an increase, right?

In the meantime, I guess I’ll just keep my eye out for when these come to KC. Since I’ve gotten out of the habit, and rarely have 8 quarters on me, and can’t steal coupons from work anymore, I know this is something I would use.

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1 Response to "Vendo-News: Newspaper Vending Machines Starting to Accept Cards"

I worked at a startup company in 2001 (WIRCA, which stood for wireless cash) that built out a mobile vending platform.

Basically how it worked was that you setup an account online that was funded through a credit card or debit card and a withdraw from the funded account was made with each transaction. Since we only hit the credit card once, the transaction fees weren’t too high.

Unfortunately at the time, we were just too early on the adoption curve.

Redbox has figured out how to do it, so there’s a possibility, but we aren’t quite there yet for micropayments for low volume transactions.

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