For most of my middle school years, my Dad was stationed in Japan. While living there, one of the many things that fascinated me were the vending machines. Yup, vending machines. But probably not exactly what you’re thinking. Little-known fun-fact, Japan has the highest number of vending machines per capita, with almost one machine for every 23 people. And these aren’t your typical vending machines. Unlike here in the U.S., vending machines in Japan are graffiti-free, clean, pleasantly lit and decorated, often play video and music while you shop, and are virtually everywhere – offering an amazing variety of stuff for sale. Amongst other things, you can buy the usual stuff like snacks, hot and cold soft drinks from the same machine, cigarettes, toys, electronics, good cold beer and, well… much more. Over the years I’ve had the chance to keep my fascination alive while either stationed there as a Marine, traveling for business, or while on vacation with my wife and 11 year old daughter. Suffice it to say the customer experience just keeps getting better.
Increasingly, and for the usual reasons these fun and useful machines are being networked – better inventory management, more efficient use of stocking and maintenance personnel, cost savings and so on. Needless to say, this is yet another high-volume business opportunity where it’d be exciting to leverage Lantronix’ networking experience to really impact the customer experience with these useful, fun machines. Our current MatchPort family, as well as the upcoming Linux-based PremierWave EN, which has a dual band radio, industrial temperature compliance, the ability to access behind firewalls, and is enabled with SmartRoam technology, are excellent for this application.
Next time you’re in Japan, skip the room service and try the nearest vending machine. You won’t be disappointed!