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How to Get Outdoor Vending Machines Up and Running

In a good location, outdoor vending machines are a great way to break into the vending business. Learn how to get the business up and running.


High-traffic location plays a significant role in the success of a vending business. If you are on a relatively secure street or a large city park with a lot of foot traffic, installing outdoor vending machines selling snacks and drinks can be a profitable venture. People on the go will easily give you their business as they can grab the drinks, prepared food packages, and snacks they want while still outside.

Naturally, you should take some precautions before you put an outdoor vending machine in operation. Moreover, you will have to abide by laws and regulations. Read on to learn how to get your open-air vending machines up and running.

Can Vending Machines Be Placed Outside?

outdoor vending machine built inside a wall

You can place a vending machine outside your house or in fact anywhere as long as you have the necessary permits and the machine is equipped to handle the rigors of being outdoors. Below are some of the considerations you should have in mind.

  • Quality of location. You want a secure and profitable location with enough foot traffic to guarantee consistent demand, like a park. Security - especially in form of vending machine cameras and cages - is important as losses due to theft and vandalism can set you back a great deal.
  • Reliable electrical outlet. The outdoor vending machines use a fair amount of electricity and should be near a reliable electrical outlet. Avoid locations where you have to use long extension cables as it increases the risk of accidents. You have a duty of care, and you may be held liable for accidents resulting from negligence.
  • A machine equipped for the outdoors. It is essential that the outdoor vending machine can maintain the required temperature even in the high outdoor heat. Outdoor heat can melt candy bars and hasten the rate at which foods go stale. Get a properly insulated outdoor vending machine.
  • More payment systems. You want a modern leading mobile payment system on a smart outdoor vending machine that accepts credit cards and digital payments like Cash App and Apple Pay. In case of a snow drift, the outdoor vending machine may not be able to accept dimes and bills as the validator may be frozen solid.

Do You Need a Permit to Place a Vending Machine Outside?

Your outdoor vending machine will be taking money in exchange for products. This makes it a business. Therefore, you will eventually need to register an LLC and get a business license from your state to place a vending machine outside. Further, because you will be selling food, your state may require additional licenses, such as a beverage license. 

The following are the federal and state requirements you may have to meet.

  • Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN). Also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number, an EIN is used to identify business entities. You can register for an EIN online with the IRS. You will need the number to register an LLC for your vending business.
  • Food or beverage service license. Some states, such as Ohio, require each vending machine location to have a food service license. These licenses are not expensive to get. It costs just $10 to apply for such a license in Massachusetts.
  • Sales Tax Number. Sales tax is levied on products sold in vending machines just as it is levied on retail store products. However, some states have exemptions for vending machines if specific conditions are met, as is the case in New York.

What Are Outdoor Vending Machines?

peosi and coca cola outdoor vending machines

These open-air vending machines provide the convenience of indoor vending machines but with added security features to protect against theft and vandalism. They also have a sturdy construction to ensure they can stand the rigors of being outdoors with 24/7 exposure to the elements.

When shopping for an outdoor vending machine, get one with most of the following features

  • Insulation and ventilation systems to protect against the elements
  • A sturdy construction that can protect against vandalism and theft
  • Vending machine cameras and security cage
  • Adjustable feet so that it can stand straight on uneven surfaces
  • Leading mobile payment system
  • Enhanced led lighting
  • Steel frame for maximum durability
  • Large merchandising window
  • Health safety programmable by selection
  • Rain guards
  • Accepts EBT payments
  • An excellent lighting system - preferably with a twilight sensor
  • Solar panels

Open-air vending machines with excellent weather and security features will give you the peace of mind to operate and scale your business.

Where to Find Outdoor Vending Machines for Sale?

You can buy a new outdoor vending machine locally in the United States or source one from a manufacturer in China. If you are on a budget, you can get a used outdoor vending machine in good condition on eBay. 

Below are some suggestions on where to find open-air vending machines for sale.

Final Thoughts

In some locations, going for an outdoor vending machine instead of an indoor one is the smarter move as you can serve people on the go without them entering the building. You will need an outdoor vending machine with security and weather-proof features to make the business work.

To increase your chances of success, you should put your outdoor vending machine in a secure and high-traffic location with a lot of foot traffic. We can help you find such locations in your area. We will build a list of potential vending locations in your city with their contact information. All you have to do is give us a Zip Code.

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