Will PPE vending kiosks attract travelers?

Discussion
Source: Hudson Ltd.
Jun 18, 2020
Tom Ryan

Hudson, the operator of airport stores, announced plans to roll out PPE (personal protection equipment) vending machines at leading airport destinations across North America.

The vending machines, to be located in pre-security locations, will include:

  • Individual and bulk packaged face masks — disposable, KN95 and cloth options;
  • Individual 2 oz. and 4 oz. hand sanitizers and bulk hand sanitizer wipes;
  • All-in-one hygiene kits;
  • Nitrile gloves and multi-use thermometers;
  • Portable and rechargeable UV-C sanitizers for mobile devices and personal items.

Some machines will also stock electronics, including charging cables and wireless headphones.

The unit’s touchscreen will be sealed with an antimicrobial shield that eliminates germs on the surface for three to four months before replacement, and Hudson will place social distancing floor decals around the machine to maintain crowd control.

The kiosks are aimed at travelers and airport workers who have forgotten their PPE at home or those looking for additional safety protection.

“With the gradual return of passengers to airports across North America following COVID-19, we’re noticing a behavioral change in travelers which puts health and safety at the forefront of the travel experience,” said Brian Quinn, EVP and COO, in a statement.

On Monday, American and United said they would start requiring passengers to wear masks, and those who don’t comply could be denied future travel.

Last Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its COVID-19 guidelines to include encouraging people leaving their homes to carry with them a face mask, tissues and hand sanitizer. The guidelines warn, “In general, the more closely you interact with others and the longer that interaction, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spread.”

Sanitizer has become more readily available following shortages in the early weeks of the pandemic. Medical-grade masks as well as non-medical grade masks for fashion or breathability have likewise become more attainable. On Friday, a $30 mask for exercise introduced by Under Armour sold out in less than an hour.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see PPE vending machines being popular with travelers and workers at airports and other transit spots? Are retailers missing a bigger merchandising opportunity around the PPE category?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Vending machines as a 'contactless' way of shopping is a big opportunity - not just in PPE but in general."
"I will be heading to the vending machine the next time I am traveling. Retailers everywhere should jump on the bandwagon. I like the idea of packaging related items together."
"Yep! I see vendors jumping on this bandwagon while the getting is good. Timing is everything. A year from now, this will fizzle."

Join the Discussion!

15 Comments on "Will PPE vending kiosks attract travelers?"


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Mark Ryski
BrainTrust

The right products, at the right place, at the right time. This is a slam dunk.

Stephen Rector
Guest

This makes total sense – I never understood why the vending machine idea didn’t take off in a bigger way with things like umbrellas, packable jackets, etc., that people could buy if they forgot them while traveling rather than having to go to a store to purchase them. Vending machines as a “contactless” way of shopping is a big opportunity – not just in PPE but in general.

Rich Kizer
BrainTrust

I think there are two types of travelers: those who travel frequently and plan intelligently about the supplies they will need, and the casual traveler who says, “oops, I didn’t know we couldn’t get through security with this gigantic bottle of mouth wash!”

I do not think these PPE vending units will come close to showing a good return on investment. I would compare them to sewing kits in the sundry store at the airport. If people need one of those by the time they’re at the airport, they buy one. I bet you won’t get a three-time turn on that investment! Most people, I hope, are aware of the protection products they need every today — no matter where they go. Me investing in a PPE vending machine program at airports? Let me give you the a name of a friend …

Dave Wendland
BrainTrust

Curated solutions such as this are not only appreciated by shoppers, but when properly placed (such as is the case for these solutions in airports and transit stations), success will follow. Well done, Hudson!

Ryan Grogman
BrainTrust

The convenience of a self-service kiosk plus the social distancing-compliant practice of contactless commerce plus timely and necessary products equals a big win for customers. I see these vending machines being very popular. Hand sanitizer has always been a big seller at airport convenience stores, even pre-pandemic, and the ability to purchase in-stock PPE goods as travelers begin returning to air travel should equate to high sales.

Brandon Rael
BrainTrust

In chaos, there is opportunity. As we reemerge from our quarantine state, PPE looks like it will be part of our everyday lives. While PPE vending kiosks will generate plenty of interest, along with another merchandising revenue stream for companies, there are far more significant hurdles for the global transit system to overcome to attract travelers.

Health, safety, and hygiene have to be front and center as part of the global transit system’s operating model. Travelers need a sense of comfort and confidence in the system in order to start traveling again.

Art Suriano
Guest

I see PPE vending machines as temporarily successful but with a short life span. Many Americans are moving beyond the worries of COVID-19, and each day we continue to receive contradictory information. Many states have returned to almost “normal.” I suspect that months from now most of what we have been facing will be behind us. A year from now, I doubt that we’ll be wearing face masks and maintaining social distancing. There may be a vaccine and, even without it, unless something dramatically changes the dynamic of COVID-19 it will slowly become something we’re aware of but no longer with a fear of dying. We have seen less than a 1 percent fatality rate and a 98 percent recovery rate. As long as these numbers continue, we will slowly get back to normal and put this horrible virus and the experience we have had to endure behind us.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

Though I’m not sure I can agree with your optimism, Art, I definitely want to!

Art Suriano
Guest

We have to start somewhere….

Ralph Jacobson
BrainTrust

Yep! I see vendors jumping on this bandwagon while the getting is good. Timing is everything. A year from now, this will fizzle.

Mel Kleiman
BrainTrust

I will be heading to the vending machine the next time I am traveling. Retailers everywhere should jump on the bandwagon. I like the idea of packaging related items together.

Jeff Weidauer
BrainTrust

Automated selling is at an inflection point, and much like e-commerce, the COVID-19 crisis will drive significant growth in this sector. PPE kiosks in airports are only the start.

Brent Biddulph
BrainTrust

Brilliant move by Hudson. What else could be said here, other than Hudson understood the opportunity and need and beat CVS and Walgreens to the punch. Although, it could be argued that this idea also makes total sense outside of airports as well. Still an opportunity for CVS and Walgreens to capitalize on a broader scale.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

I think air travel is in real trouble.

And while that might seem like a tangential remark, even a rant, in this case it’s an honest evaluation of the sector that influences how much of an “opportunity” I think this represents. To put it simply: I think this will be popular — if that’s really the right term for it — with a large segment of travelers, whether by choice or necessity, but I question how large that pool is going to be. Reading thru a “Financial Times” article yesterday about “the Future of Flying,” I had one thought (and detected it in the comments): no thanks; “bring several masks for an international flight so you can change “en route”? The “Titanic” is starting to look like an appealing alternative … heck, with distancing-related capacity reductions, there would be plenty of lifeboats after all.

Brian Numainville
BrainTrust

While it remains to be seen how long of a tail there might be on this opportunity, it certainly seems like a good contactless offering in certain places at this point in time, especially while we don’t have a vaccine and there is a resurgence in COVID-19 cases being reported in 20+ states. Might be more successful with a range of products as opposed to just PPE since there are a number of items at different locations that might be needed and important (and forgotten).

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Vending machines as a 'contactless' way of shopping is a big opportunity - not just in PPE but in general."
"I will be heading to the vending machine the next time I am traveling. Retailers everywhere should jump on the bandwagon. I like the idea of packaging related items together."
"Yep! I see vendors jumping on this bandwagon while the getting is good. Timing is everything. A year from now, this will fizzle."

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