When we think of vending machines, what usually comes to mind are stuff like the drinks and food machines we see peppering various convenience stores and public places. It seems everything can be sold through a vending machine and it can even receive and pay people as well, like KLEAN’s reverse vending machines.
However, what happens when the stuff that needs to be sold is as big or bigger than the vending machine itself. Then all you have to do is build a bigger vending machine. That seems to be what Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and the auto company Ford have done.
Typically, when you buy a car, you’d usually head to a car showroom, take a look at the cars on display and then deal with the sales rep to buy your car. This giant vending machine, however, aims to cut the man-to-man process and allows buyers to just pay and go with their new Ford car.
Built in Guangzhou, the vending machine is unmanned and stands five-stories tall and houses 42 cars of various Ford model including the Ford Mustangs and Explorer SUVs. As long as the customer is a Tmall (Alibaba’s flagship online platform) user with good credit, buying a car from the vending machine is simple.
They just need to choose the model from the Tabao app then have their face scanned by the app. Once they reach the vending machine, it’ll scan their faces to verify their identity before delivering the vehicle to them. All of this can be done in under 10 minutes, without any human staff or help.
On how easy it is to purchase the car from the vending machine, Gu Wanguo, general manager of vehicles at Tmall Auto, said “Sign up is completely mobile on the Tmall or Taobao mobile APP. Once a Ford vehicle is chosen, consumers snap a selfie to ensure they are the only person who can take the car, put down a deposit electronically, and schedule a pickup time, all from within the app,” he added. At Guangzhou’s machine, buyers can also take out one other car if they are not satisfied with their selections.”
The giant vending machine will be open to the Guangzhou public until April 23 and buyers will be given a 3-day test drive before they commit to a purchase. Guangzhou isn’t the only city that this giant vending machine is being set up as similar places are being planned for Beijing and Hangzhou.