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Amazon Vending Machines Now Popping Up in Airports, Malls

My biggestAmazonRetail_2013_04_21[1] issue with the Amazon retail store rumor is that Amazon has always chosen to make capital in hardware and systems as a way of reducing operating costs.

That’s why they bought the robotics maker Kiva Systems, and that’s why they invested in delivery boxes, so when I learned today that Amazon’s retail footprint now included a vending machine spotted in McCarran Airport I was not at all surprised.

If you should happen to be flying through Las Vegas and in the mood for some uber-geeky sight-seeing, stop by Terminal C. That is where you will see this:

DSC05947[1] If you should think that vending machine looks familiar, your eyes aren’t tricking you. I think it bears a striking resemblance to the vending machines which were said to be part of the Amazon booth which popped up last month. I only had a single poor quality image to post last month, but I thought the general design was the same.

Geekwire was the first to notice the vending machine in Las Vegas, and they report that they were the second to buy from it (a Kindle power adapter). The machine stocked Kindle ebook readers and tablets as well as accessories, including the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9. While it might surprise you that someone could buy a $380 tablet from a vending machine, it’s not the most expensive item I’ve seen. best buy has similar vending machines in airports and they sell iPads.

According to Geekwire Amazon’s vending machine is operated by Zoom Systems, a company which makes similar vending machines for Media Markt, Reebok, Best Buy and other retailers. This is just one of the vending machines that Amazon has been installing in malls airports, and other locations across the US. They also reported that the shopping experience was not without issues; the machine hung once or twice before finally dispensing their purchase and printing a receipt.

It didn’t, unfortunately, offer to let them enter an email so the sale could be associated with an account, and that is a pity. It would be nice if this machine were capable of vending Kindles and then attaching them to an account; the new user would be able to get them up and running that much faster. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea if the machine offered a Kindle-only Wifi hotspot so customers could register new devices and download content.

P.S. Does anyone want to start a betting pool on when Amazon will buy Zoom Systems?

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fjtorres January 9, 2014 um 8:39 pm

Amazon store format: Vending machine + lockers + kiosks running on-emandd videos and mayday + one (backroom) employee.
Still think no way?

flyingtoastr January 9, 2014 um 9:03 pm

If they have an employee they instantly have to pay sales taxes for every purchase made in the state.

No, there will be magical volunteers totally not associated with Amazon that just happen to be in the area when customers are around that just happen to know how to do everything at the kiosk paid by a mysterious bald man in a trenchcoat in untraceable bills.

And I’m sure they’ll bribe some politicians to look the other way, like usual.

fjtorres January 9, 2014 um 11:01 pm

One word: Franchise! 🙂

Timothy Wilhoit January 10, 2014 um 1:47 am

"If they have an employee they instantly have to pay sales taxes for every purchase made in the state."

If Amazon is selling anything in Nevada, they are collecting sales tax to remit to the state of Nevada. Does B&N PAY sales tax? No, they collect sales tax from the customer to remit to the state where the sale takes place. Amazon does the same, but only in the states where they have a physical presence. That’s why Amazon has always collected sales tax from me (I live in KY).

flyingtoastr January 10, 2014 um 7:12 am

When you can’t argue with the point, critique the grammar!

Nate Hoffelder January 10, 2014 um 7:28 am

Actually, maintenance and support of vending machines is usually contracted out. Also, I would bet that Zoom Systems owns the actual hardware which they lease to Amazon. This would have more to do with hardware maintenance and servicing than with tax avoidance.

Nate Hoffelder January 10, 2014 um 7:26 am

Mayday would dispense with most of the need for the employee to be on site.

fjtorres January 10, 2014 um 8:32 am

Very likely.
But they still would need some dedicated support to help some of the customers understand the process. Like the "mall store" of the earlier report.
Whether on-site or telecommuting they would still need somebody live, at least early on.

Elaine January 10, 2014 um 9:59 am

When we got the Original Kindle, I wondered why there weren’t kiosks in major airports renting them out with a prepaid return mailer. Don’t return it, and your credit card gets charged as a purchase.

carmen webster buxton January 10, 2014 um 12:36 pm

With flights getting cancelled left and right when the weather is bad, a Kindle kiosk makes perfect sense! I agree on the contracting out for maintenance and stocking, but I don’t know if states' nexus laws would still consider a vending machine to be an Amazon retail outlet or not, especially if it only sells Amazon products.

fjtorres January 10, 2014 um 1:56 pm

They probably would but the whole point is moot, anyway.
By the time they finish their distribution network buildout they’ll have a presence in most every state anyway.
They already collect taxes in a bunch of states and it hadn’t hurt them.
Only ADS suffers believe the sales tax issue is make or break.

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