Last week, Uniqlo announced it will start selling products via vending machines in airports across the country (10 locations total by the end of the month). Is this going too far to create a “personalized,” “unique” and “convenient” customer experience? What will retailers vend next... candy bars? Been there, done that. Make-up? Odd but cute concept. Technology? Getting weirder. Pants? I don’t think so.
It seems brands and retailers are so strapped for new ways to reach the consumer that throwing products in a vending machine has become a last ditch effort to grab attention. Is the lack of human interaction really what consumers desire? I personally cannot wait to see what products will hit the vending world next – will I purchase them? Of course not. That said, retailers need to re-evaluate the importance of human interaction when creating a better experience at the store level. Consumers wanting convenience and ease-of-use should not translate for retailers into an automation overhaul. Starting with the right data and insights, retailers need to consider the full picture before throwing product in a vending machine and seeing if it will stick.
After a U.S. store expansion that fizzled a few years ago, fashion retailer Uniqlo is trying something new: selling its wares from vending machines.