Customers use a Tao Bin vending machine at Phaya Thai BTS station. There were 500 Tao Bin machines on the market last year.
Vending machines have become a popular new distribution channel for Thai consumers as well as a new tool for companies to start a business as they generate good sales.
The machines attract customers with their novelty in terms of design and product offerings.
They are ubiquitous throughout Thailand, resembling the phenomenal expansion of 7-Eleven convenience stores decades ago, with new players expected to enter the market and existing players expanding their businesses.
BELOW Mr. Pitsnu says the launch of smart vending machines like Tao Bin is seen as positive for the country’s vending machine industry.
TAO BIN DRIVES MARKET
“I never imagined I could buy quality Americano coffee from a vending machine without a barista. The taste is as good as I expected and the price is affordable at just 35-40 baht per cup,” said said Nimit Suksubthavorn, 32, a hardworking Siam Square office worker, referring to Tao Bin, the latest smart drink vending machine.
“The machine offers both hot and cold drinks and you can choose the level of sweetness, just like in a cafe.”
Mr. Nimit said he was very satisfied with Tao Bin because it is easy to use and he can buy coffee anytime.
Tao Bin smart drink vending machines are owned and operated by Forth Smart Service, the country’s largest supplier of refill machines under the Boonterm brand.
The one square meter, state-of-the-art dispenser offers 170 drinks: hot and iced coffee, hot and iced milk, fruit drinks, sodas, protein shakes and smoothies. Prices start from 15 baht for a soft drink with ice to over 100 baht for specialty coffees.
Patcharin Daengsawat, 19, a Bangkok University student, said she bought several types of drinks from Tao Bin machines at several locations such as condos, skytrain stations and outside banks on Phahon Yothin Road.
“The drinks are varied. Many varieties have never been available from vending machines before, including a whey protein shake,” Ms Patcharin said.
“I always order the Oreo mix. The price of 55 baht per cup is reasonable and the taste is almost the same as those available in the drink corners of shopping malls where the price is almost double.”
She said the machines make it easier to buy a fruit smoothie after finishing work.
“Tao Bin has totally changed my perception of vending machines. They are very convenient, but the weak point is the frequent shortage of popular drinks,” said Danai Meearee, 28, a fitness trainer.
Watanya Amatanon, product manager at Forth Vending Co, the distributor of Tao Bin vending machines, said the company took two years to develop the robotic machine and launched it six months ago.
Watanya said the pandemic has driven more people to work from home, changing consumer lifestyles, while competition in Thailand’s coffee market has intensified.
“The highest level of sales for one of our machines is 377 cups per day. We are very happy with our sales so far. I think the success comes from the taste of the drinks. The market is still untapped and we’re coming up with something new,” she said.
There were 500 Tao Bin vending machines on the market last year and the company aims to have 3,500 by the end of this year, Ms Watanya said.
The machine is operated by Forth Vending and its 26 licensed operators.
Tao Bin vending machines are located at various sites such as hospitals, office buildings, BTS stations and in front of major shopping malls.
She said the group used to import vending machines to sell canned drinks and other items, but decided to adapt its business model to robotic vending machines and provide the service 24 hours a day. in response to changing lifestyles.
“There are over 7,000 mechanical parts inside our vending machine and up to 30 patents filed,” Ms. Watanya said.
“We not only offer drinks, but also new items to create a new customer experience, including freshly cooked meals and other choices that meet Tao Bin’s vision of satisfying customers.”
Ms Watanya says the company took two years to develop a robotic vending machine and launched it on the market six months ago.
Pitsnu Chokwatana, managing director of vending machine company Sun Vending Technology Plc, operator of the Sun 108 vending brand, said the launch of smart vending machines like Tao Bin is seen as positive for the industry as it increase consumer familiarity with new technologies. and encourage them to buy drinks through this channel.
More importantly, it encourages vending machine vendors to develop and innovate machine features, Pitsnu said.
He said Sun Vending plans to install 2,000 new Sun 108 vending machines and 400 to 500 cup vending machines this year.
“We currently have nearly 15,000 vending machines in the market, of which 3,000 are smart vending machines,” Pitsnu said.
“The number of Sun 108 vending machines is expected to reach 20,000 units next year, of which 15,000 will be smart machines.”
As the company expects a wider variety of cup vending machines to be rolled out next year, it will pay more attention to these machines, rather than the focus on cup vending machines. canned in recent years, he said.
Mr Kitti says vending machines are widely used in Bangkok to sell food and drink.
DRINKS KEEP THE PROMISE
Kitti Siripallop, an associate professor at Thammasat Business School, said vending machines are now a widely used distribution channel for food, drinks, flowers, hairy crabs, freshly baked pizzas and ramen.
“For Thailand, beverages are likely to be the most popular items sold from vending machines thanks to the warm weather. Thais drink tea and coffee every day with high frequency,” Kitti said.
“Tao Bin is popular because people are excited about its smart technology and personalized drinks.”
To be successful in the Thai vending machine segment, he said operators need to understand consumer behavior and sell the products in demand.
“Besides reasonable prices, the continued popularity of a business should depend on efficient operation and management,” Mr. Kitti said.
“They should have beverages with call prices to attract customer interest and provide products that can respond quickly to consumer needs.”
Mr. Rangsun says PTG Energy is exploring market opportunities in the vending industry.
PTG JOINS THE FIGHT
Rangsun Puangprang, executive vice president of PTG Energy Group Plc, Thailand’s second-largest fuel trader by sales volume, said the company was exploring market opportunities in the vending machine sector.
The company is in the process of developing a smart vending machine after unofficially launching two machines to test the system at select oil truck fleet centers, he said.
The company is expected to officially launch its vending machine in the market at some of its gas stations in the coming months, Rangsun said.