GAUTIER, Miss. -- Vending machines that sell smart phones, iPods and other high-end electronics may have become commonplace at metropolitan airports, but at least one major retailer sees opportunities at convenience stores.
Best Buy Co. Inc. has installed 160 vending kiosks in airports, c-stores, casinos, hotels, resorts and on college campuses, according to Jeremy Baier, a spokesperson for the Minneapolis-based chain, with plans to expand that to 300 in the next year or two.
With its "Best Buy Express" concept, Baier told CSP Daily News the chain "continues to conduct experiments in new markets and categories, and we are currently exploring options within the convenience-store channel."
Recent news reports featured a Best Buy kiosk at a Murphy Oil location in Mississippi. According to the Sun Herald, the robotic kiosks have internal lasers that detect where the product is at all times. The machine detects when a product falls into the retrieval bin and won't charge the credit card until the transfer occurs.
Though lower-priced items like earphones, power cables and data discs are more likely to sell, Best Buy officials have been seeing a gradual uptick in the sale of higher-priced items. Having launched the larger program almost three years ago, officials say people are getting used to buying electronics through a vending machine.
The Murphy Oil kiosk, installed at a site in Gautier, Miss., has been in place about six months. Officials told the newspaper that education is still an issue. People still have to believe the items in the machine are as good as what they would find in a store.
Murphy Oil did not respond to a request for comment by press time.
This past summer, Best Buy added two locations in the Downtown Disney District in Anaheim, Calif., and multiple locations at college campuses, events and ferry hubs through 2011.
As part of Best Buy's multi-channel strategy, it offers Best Buy Express as a convenience, expanding the availability of product so customers can purchase them "whenever and wherever they need it."
Minneapolis-based Best Buy is a multi-channel, global retailer and developer of technology products and services.
El Dorado, Ark.-based oil and gas company Murphy Oil Corp. operates more than 1,100 Murphy USA locations in 23 states. It also operates approximately 60 of the 2,400-square-foot Murphy Express locations in 11 states.