How to start a vending machine business in South Africa

How to start a vending machine business in South Africa

A vending machine business is a great way to earn money that has low barriers to entry and overhead costs. This is a guide on how to start a vending machine business in South Africa.


A vending machine is a self-service machine which dispenses merchandise after the insertion of money into the machine. Which is mostly snacks and delicious treats. Vending machines have always been a good business and have evolved to meet the needs our time.

Some vending machines accept credit/debit cards and have adapted to providing healthier treats like protein bars. People will always use vending machines for as long as they’re easily accessible and have what customers want. A vending machine is a convenient and time saving option for the busy consumers who are on the go.

Decide what you want to sell

Vending machines can be used to sell almost all consumer products, from food to toiletries. You can sell skin care products, toys, sunscreen, nail polish and electronics accessories like chargers. However, the most popular option is to sell food. Food usually sells the most, but there are also different types of food, which will appeal to a different target market altogether.

It’s better to start with the most popular food items that won’t expire quickly, these are mostly cool drinks and other snacks. You first need to have enough demand before selling things like sandwiches; which have a very short shelf life.

Deciding what you want to sell early on will make it easier for you to choose your location. If you want to sell sunscreen, goggles and other beach suppliers then it would make sense to setup your vending machine at a beach.

Set up operating premises

Operating premises for vending machines work a little differently, you won’t need to build one yourself. You just have to place your vending machine in an area that has a lot of foot traffic. This is done by paying rent for the machine or giving 10 to 15% of the revenue to the owner of the premises.

This will require you to strike favourable deals, don’t strike deals that will make it difficult for you to get profit. Here are some of the best locations for a vending machine:

  • Grocery stores
  • Malls and shopping centres
  • Apartment complexes
  • Hotels and motels
  • Schools
  • Universities
  • Hospitals and health centres
  • Laundromats
  • Airports
  • Train stations
  • Bus stations
  • Manufacturing facilities

Register your business

It’s important to register this as a company, some people won’t give you room to operate your vending machines if you are not a registered company. Opening a private company only costs R175 when done through the CIPC and this will also allow to have a business bank account amongst other benefits.

Buy vending machines

Vending machines can be very expensive, especially new ones. I highly advise that you buy a vending machine that is refurbished. It won’t be as good as the new one but it will be way cheaper but still be in a very good condition.

Buying used vending machines is a bit risky because they might be faulty and will cost you way more in maintenance. You can buy vending machines from online suppliers, search for them on Google, platforms like OLX, Gumtree and even on social platforms like Facebook.

It’s best to do a little research about the different types of vending machines that are there in the market. Some are very durable while some break easily, join vending machine groups on Facebook to get all the non-biased reviews. Don’t buy vending machines that are too old because they don’t accept credit cards.

Do regular maintenance

Your vending machine will break down or give you problems at some point. These problems may range from malfunction to just taking the customer’s money and not giving them the correct product. This will negatively affect your business, it’s best to do some regular maintenance.

You might not know how to troubleshoot a vending machine, in that case it’s always best to hire a person who will do the repairs. Only hire them when you need to, don’t hire them on a permanent basis.

It’s equally important to make sure that you don’t run out of stock, always stock up your vending machine.


This was a guide on how to start a vending machine business in South Africa. Do you have any thoughts or questions? Comment below.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Hi, If you are wanting to buy a vending machine for unconventional products eg. skincare. Are the machines made specifically for these?

    1. Yes; there are vending machines for almost all consumer products now.

  2. I need the soft drinks and hygiene machine

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