vending machine business in malaysia
Earning Money

My Experience with Doing Vending Machine Business in Malaysia

This article records my own personal experience in doing vending machine business in Malaysia, as a way to earn extra income. If all goes well, I will enjoy ~200% returns by the end of the fifth year.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start from the beginning. This article covers the following sections:

  • Part 1 – Learning how the vending machine business works
  • Part 2 – Learning how to start vending machine business in Malaysia
  • Part 3 – Price for vending machine in Malaysia
  • Part 4 – Is vending machine a profitable business?
  • Part 5 – My bad experience with the vending machine supplier company
  • Part 6 – Guaranteed Rental Return vending machine package
  • Part 7 – Vending machine Malaysia – is this business worth doing?

Part 1 – Learning how the vending machine business works

In September 2020, I was happily browsing through the Home & Living Fair Expo at Mid Valley (and mentally furnishing my future house) when I chanced upon the vending machine supplier’s booth. I have no idea what they were doing there, but I, too, have heard about the high income potential from doing the vending machine business in Malaysia.

So I inquired. A nice sales lady immediately assisted me.

She told me about the company, which specialises in manufacturing and supplying vending machines all over Malaysia, and the various types of vending machines they offer, including:

  • Snacks vending machine (available in multiple configurations. The most high-tech one got touch screen and e-wallet payment option)
  • Hot food vending machine
  • Drinks vending machine
  • Mystery box vending machine
  • Custom vending machine
  • Cashless vending machine
  • Coffee vending machine
  • And more

The price for vending machines ranges from around RM8000 to over RM20,000 each, excluding financing (if available).

Part 2 – Learning how to start vending machine business in Malaysia

My sales rep, who runs 2 vending machines herself, said they have been a profitable venture for her (to be fair, of course she would say that), and it is easy for individuals to start a vending machine business in Malaysia (that too).

If I want to start, all I have to do is:

  1. Choose (and pay for) a vending machine package
  2. Pick a location I want (locations are provided)
  3. Collect the sales profit every month

She showed me a list of 100 or so ‘hot’ locations with ‘ready’ customers, all approved and waiting for vending machines to be installed. Locations vary; some are at public places, some at offices/factories, some at residential areas.

She explained the benefits of starting vending machine business through the company, as they provide many types of assistance, including (some services are included in the price, some with extra charge):

  • Finding suitable locations and negotiating rental with the property management
  • Delivery of the machine
  • Providing a variety of vending machine-friendly items
  • Stocking the items
  • Refilling the items
  • Processing the payments
  • Handling repairs
  • And more

Part 3 – Price for vending machine in Malaysia

As for the price for vending machine, the company designed 3 types of business packages:

  1. Buy package – Buy a smart vending machine for RM20,000 in upfront capital + monthly cost of approx RM200-400 for location rental, possible Internet cost and refilling service (optional)
  2. Rent-to-own package – Put RM6000 downpayment for a smart vending machine + monthly cost of approx RM600-1000 for location rental, possible Internet cost and refilling service (optional)
  3. Guaranteed Rental Scheme package – more details on this in Part 6

Her sales pitch was very good and it’s obvious she is an experienced salesperson. The projected returns sound great (“most people break even by the second year, after that what you earn is pure profit”).

Part 4 – Is vending machine a profitable business?

The salesperson made it sound like vending machine business is the easiest thing in the world to profit from. But of course I have to do my research.

What I found out: It has potential, yes, but like all businesses, it’s not as ‘easy’ or ‘passive’ as the sales agent suggested.

Based on my research, I would be lucky if I broke even within 1.5-2 years; it really depends on the location. If you happen to pick a bad location, then you may not turn any profit at all! The risk of losing money is always there, because this is a business.

When I asked on social media, some people replied with their own experiences.

  • Some made great profit (they got great locations, sourced own machines, etc).
  • Some make a loss (horrible location, etc).
  • Some bought/sold their vending machines from other buyers/sellers, bypassing companies like these altogether. You can find vending machines listed on Mudah.my.
  • Some said they, too, have also heard and tempted by over-optimistic sales projection by agents.

I found out that there is also a type of vending machine scam in Singapore!

Despite that, I still wanted in. I checked and am satisfied with the legitimacy of the vending machine company. But mainly I was curious about the vending machine business. I figured, at the very least, I can write about it (and I did).

Part 5 – My bad experience with the vending machine supplier company

Initially, I picked the Rent-to-Own package (later, I switched to the Guaranteed Rental Return package – more info in Part 6) and paid RM6,000 to the vending machine supplier company back in September 2020. However, my personal experience with this package was not great.

First, I was told that all the locations shown to me during the expo were no longer available, they ‘ran out’ despite me paying the downpayment to book them. In short: they have pulled the classic overpromise and underdeliver tactic.

I was told to wait for new locations. Because it was the peak pandemic period and stay-home orders were given and everything, I (stupidly) accommodated and waited.

Finally, around January 2021, (a good 3 months after), a new sales agent contacted me. He introduced himself and told me he would contact me after they found new locations.

Around the same period, I received a letter via email, informing me of the delay of the vending machine (as if I didn’t notice). They blamed Covid-19 and offered a free month of rental as an apology. So I waited some more.

In March 2021, after about 6 months since I signed the contract, my sales agent finally contacted me with a location.

A location. One. That was a far cry from the list of ~100 over locations shown to me during the first sales pitch. I knew that location matters, so I asked as much details about the location as possible. After some prodding, I was given one more (just one more) possible location, which isn’t as good.

Was I annoyed? Yes. I wanted choice, and now it seems like I have to take whatever location is available. I had wanted to visit some locations before making my decision, to see the foot traffic and type of possible customers and safety of the location.

There were other things displeased me. I was told to attend a vending machine maintenance class, so I can learn basic troubleshooting of the machine in case it malfunctions. I was never told this, or if it was, only in passing.

I was also told to create a new company for the purpose of registering for e-wallet functionality. Reader, I signed the paperwork 6 months ago and was told everything was okay. Suddenly I was told to do additional work. How’d you feel?

Part 6 – Guaranteed Rental Return vending machine business package

After complaining to my agent, he informed me of a NEW package that is better suited for me: the Guaranteed Rental Return package. Essentially, I will earn rental income on the vending machine instead of profit from item sales.

How it works is:

  • Pay RM22,000 in upfront capital, get the machine within 31 days
  • Receive monthly rental payment for 3 years – RM300 per month in Year 1; RM350 per month in Year 2; RM400 per month in Year 3 (Totaling RM12,600)

After the 3 years, you have 3 options:

  • (1) Take the vending machine for own business,
  • (2) Renew and continue earning rental payment of RM400 per month for 2 more years (RM400 x 24 = RM9,600), or
  • (3) Sell the vending machine back to the company for RM22,000 (your upfront capital)

It sounds good. The contract is better than the rent-to-own scheme, too (the cancellation penalty is ridiculous). And he’s right, this is a better package for me. I wanted minimal work for the next five years.

Under this package, I don’t have to worry about opening a new company, stocking the vending machine, maintaining the vending machine, and more. I will simply receive income every month, no other action necessary.

So I switched plans. It will give me less profit potential, but will give me more peace of mind. Easy decision to make.

My contract came into effect in April 2021. As of writing time, the plan is going well – I am receiving RM300 rental income every month. Like I said at the beginning of this article, *if* all goes well, I will enjoy ~200% returns by the end of the fifth year.

If you’re interested in the same plan, leave your contact details in the comments section (or you can DM me on my social media) and I’ll pass your contact to my agent. You’ll also get RM1,000 discount (RM21,000 instead of RM22,000)

Note: Nothing is risk-free in business. I will be so happy if this business works out, but I will also not depend on it. You’ll be advised to use the same approach as well – don’t use life savings or emergency funds or anything.

Part 7 – Vending machine Malaysia: is this business worth doing?

So, is it worth doing vending machine business in Malaysia?

From this whole experience, I’ve concluded some general guidelines – here’s what I’ll do if I were to do vending machine business all over again:

Bypass vending machine supplier company IF: already have a location AND capital (ie upfront money) AND time to refill the machines AND technical capability to fix the machines (or know who to call when it breaks).

If I know what to do, I’ll simply buy the vending machines directly from whichever vending machine supplier with the best price or better yet, from previous owners (at Mudah.my, etc).

Go through a company IF: no experience at all. Going through company is probably the safest way to do it, they have the expertise. Be very sceptical of profit projection though – so far I am happy with the vending machine package I picked, but I need to remember that every business carries risk.

That is my experience in doing vending machine Malaysia business so far. If you are interested in it, what else do you want to know? If you have experience, how is your vending machine business doing and what did you wish you knew when you first started?

Let me know in the comments!

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28 Comments

  1. Hi Suraya, I have a similar experience. Me and my friend bought a vending machine together for RM57k. The sales agent was very convincing, saying how she has more than 10 machines, and how her daughter is helping to manage her machines. We were also told how fat the profit margin is.

    Before purchasing the machines, we were told that there are a lot of great locations available, such as at popular hospitals. After paying for the machine, it took 3 months to arrive, and we were given bad location options to operate it. After much complaining to the company, we managed to get a decent location outside a shop in a busy street.

    Our machine requires a lot of maintenance, for example refilling cocoa, tea, soya powders, creamers and sugar. We also have to regularly refilling the water tank inside the machine. If we are late for refilling and the water runs out, the ice-making machine will malfunction.

    After paying for the ingredients (powders, sugar) and rental, we hardly make a profit, let alone thinking of breaking even. There were also instances of vandalism or customers throwing their cups/pouring their drinks into our machine

    The worst thing is, the company removed the computer inside the vending machine which helps to regulate the mixture of powders in the correct proportion. As a result, we cannot alter the taste or change to other types of beverages. It was a brilliant way for the company to keep making money from us via “regular maintenance”. Besides, we are also not able to sell the machine as no buyer would like to have a machine without the computer inside.

    This is really an experience where I finally realise the wisdom of “do not invest in things that you do not understand”.

    1. Thank you so much WC for your experience sharing, highly appreciated! That machine was RM57k?? I’m so surprised, I thought even the top range one is RM30k.

      Unfortunately, I have heard about vandalism being main issue in vending machine business in Malaysia. It’s sad that we’re not as civic minded as Japan 🙁

  2. Any machine business is profitable but it really depends on location and exposure of the machines.

    I invested a lot in toy claw machines early last year, but sadly wrong timing as the pandemic hit and ended up paying a lot for empty rent due to mco.

    Early this year, I cannot tahan and decided to just bail out, let the rent deposit burn and brought home all the machines.

    Currently thinking of whether to open new shop (need capital for renovation) or to just sell off my machines.

    Either way, good thing these machines and toys have *no* expiry date, still can afford to think masak2 on my next move haha

    1. Thanks Lloyd for your experience sharing! Yes it really depends on foot traffic. In the vending machine communities, I can see people berebit for good locations..

      Hope you’ll be able to find use for your machines in the future. I have a soft spot for them, reminds me of Japan

  3. Hey Suraya,

    I was thinking about vending machine business and I came across your article which was an eye opener, proving it is not an easy ride. But I will like to know based on your experience:

    A) How profitable is the vending machine business?. I am actually asking on return of investment (ROI).
    B) As you have said, you have a done a market research on what people are keen on buying in a vending machine. Mind sharing some info please?
    C) Based on your experience, for a rookie . Which one would you suggest, Going through a company or buying an own machine and getting a location by themselves ?.
    D) Do we need to register a company under SSM, to start this business ?. Sorry I am clueless regarding this.

    Thank you for sharing.

    1. Hello Suraya,

      Very happy to come across your sharing on Vending machine business.
      I also keen to know what’s your reply on Kavilan’s questions.
      Mind if I have a bite of the information. >.<

      Many thanks for sharing.

    2. Hi Kavilan,

      (A) Profitability depends on many factors. I took the guaranteed rental returns scheme, which assured me ~200% return in 5 years. You can get better profits (and expose yourself to more risk) via operating your own machine(s). See Part 7 – Vending machine Malaysia: is this business worth doing?

      (B) See Part 1-3

      (C) See part 7

      (D) Unless you took the same package I did, then yes. generally speaking it’s practical to open a company if you have business, even side or small business. You can do sole prop (the cheapest option), and if when you grow the biz, you can upgrade to llp or sdn bhd

      All the best

  4. Hye Suraiya. Your story was mind opener but I still have some doubts on the vending machine business and I hope you can share me your experience on the vending machine business. My questions are, which do you advice for a rookie, getting a vending machine by themselves and sourcing for a location or going through a company?. Second, how long did you take to cover back your initial investment (Return of investment)?. Lastly, could you give us a glimpse in what we should look at before purchasing a vending machine?.

    Your help will be much appreciated. Thank you

  5. Good evening Suraya,

    I’m interested to get into the vending machine business and did a lot of research but most of the info are for foreigner(USA, Japan, Taiwan) rarely to see article about Malaysia.

    As a fresh graduate I don’t really understand about the law in Malaysia. Hence, I got few question atm, hope you can help me 😀
    Do I need to register a company under any government department? Is it really necessary to have a company even I only own a vending machine? Or I can register afterward when the business grown bigger?

    Your help will be much appreciated!

    Btw hope to see some update about your vending machine business in the future. Wish you have a great day! 🙂

    1. Hi Yu,

      Its great that you are interested in this business. Tbh your questions are outside my area of expertise, so you’ll have to find others to give better advice.

      What I do know though, is it’s always practical to open a company if you have business, even side or small business. You can do sole prop (the cheapest option), and if when you grow the biz, you can upgrade to llp or sdn bhd

      all the best!

  6. Company tat overpromise n under delivery is already an alarm,might want to reconsider giving them more money n subscribe to another package all together? Any black and white or document to secure your investment?

    1. Yeah this was classic sunk cost fallacy move. I paid RM6k, didn’t want to go through the hassle of ‘wasting’ the time (and additional time for refund, if possible, didn’t ask), so went for the other package.

      On the plus side, the legal and contract side is all good

  7. Hi Suraya

    Interesting read, however i’m not sure how you come up with 216% return..
    if you make 12.6k+9.6k over 5 years that’s a return of 4.44k per year. So the yield is 4.44k/22k = 20.5% per year and overall 100% over the 5 year plan you suggest. That’s very decent return but nothing like 216%. Where did I get it wrong.. can you explain ?

    1. Hi Nico,

      Great guestion. I edited from a precise 216% to ~200% returns in 5 years. The number is taken from their proposal document, given to interested investors

  8. Hai Suraya, such a motivating and mind-opener story on vending machine business. Can I have your agent’s contact number as I plan to start my vending machine business in the future? By the way, wish you all the best for your business.

  9. Hi, thanks for sharing this! I’d like to ask, is it up to you to chose what to sell in the vending machine? Is there a specific standard or rules in what can/cannot sell vis vending machine? Thanks

    1. Hi Lizzie,

      If you take your own machine (not the rental package), you can pick yourself what you want to sell, yes 🙂 I’m sure there are guidelines in terms of what cannot sell (for example, firearms) but my agent did mention consultation will be given based, on sales data, so that’s cool

  10. Hi Suraya,

    I’m a big fan of vending machine myself, its always a pleasure buying things from it. I was thinking of doing this, mind to share the name of the company you are with?

    Also, what are your thoughts on alcoholic drinks is it legal to do in malaysia?

    BR,
    Joe

    1. Hi Joe,

      Check your email 🙂

      Re – selling alcoholic drinks in vending machine in Malaysia. You know, I have no idea. Here’s hoping someone who knows can reply and answer

  11. Hi Ms.Suraya,

    Thanks for your sharing on the vending machine business, glad that i read your article when browsing through internet for information. Can you share me your agent contact? I would like to know more in detail.

    Wish everyone is safe during this pandemic, have a nice day.

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