Alcohol vending machines: A solution for high traffic venues?

The Boxx, alcohol vending machine for stadiums

Dear Client:

In the age of AI, could age-gating, tech-equipped alcohol vending machines be part of the answer to on-premise service gaps at high traffic venues — like stadiums and hotels?

At least that’s what Boxxtech hopes.

The company is rolling out that technology now, after piloting “The Boxx” alcohol vending machines at Progressive Field (home of the Cleveland Guardians MLB team) last year. They won placement at the stadium this year with food and beverage operator Delaware North and have plans to “expand everywhere that Delaware North manages,” including additional stadiums, airports and convention centers, Boxxtech CEO Lauren Smee told CBD.

(Note that Boxxtech only supplies the machines to venues, it does not supply alcohol, which goes through a venue’s regular distribution channel.)

The Scottsdale, Arizona-headquartered company cofounded by Lauren and ex-NFL player Lamarr Houston is in Ohio and Texas currently with plans to roll out 50 Boxx alcohol vending machines by the end of the year. “That will take us to about 10 different states by the end of the year,” Lauren said.

They’ve served more than 27,000 consumers since they launched in April and have done as much as $68 a minute in sales during peak operation at events.

The Boxx is also “a permanent installation with the Super Bowl planning committee,” Lauren said, with vending machines posted at the ‘23 and ‘24 Super Bowl Games and “NFL-branded Boxxes” coming to the 2025 Super Bowl in New Orleans.

“It’s been amazing to be a part of those the last two years, [as] we hit some incredible milestones in terms of drinks served and speed and getting new customers,” Lauren said.

The impetus for the Boxx? Lost alcohol sales.

While CBD readers may think The Boxx alcohol vending machines were created in response to Covid-induced service challenges on-premise, you’d be partly right: the company was founded in February 2020 on the cusp of the pandemic, but certainly accelerated during the era of “alcohol to-go,” Lamarr said.

The B2B solution (Boxxtech provides vending machines to venue operators who then stock it with their own products) was designed with the end consumer in mind.

“Every single adult drinker consumer has a story where they waited in a really long line, paid a really inflated price for an alcoholic beverage and then most likely didn’t return,” Lauren said. “So it’s the poor consumer experience, the lost alcohol sales for the people that are actually selling the drinks, that’s a real problem. So The Boxx was designed to literally solve and alleviate all those issues.”

How it works.

In terms of how The Boxx vending machines work, transactions, including age verification via technology, takes about 30 seconds, with consumers allowed to purchase two products per transaction.

The age-gaiting tech uses a two-step process to both confirm a user’s ID is valid and also uses AI “to make sure that the person presenting the ID is the actual ID holder,” Lauren said.

“This process is so much more accurate [than a bartender scanning an ID],” she added. “It’s so much more secure and it will really keep a lot of those underage kids who are abusing the system with fake IDs from being able to use those, which is obviously great for our customers in terms of liability.”

Boxxtech CEO, Lauren Smee

Then too, “we also have other limiting features that are customizable” where a venue could opt not to allow the same customer to purchase a certain amount of products within a preset time frame, as an example.

“We don’t have the retail liquor license. We’re not ordering stock, choosing menu prices. We’re purely just the ancillary hardware and software machine,” Lauren said.

And while Boxxtech’s clients mainly include venue operators who stock machines via their food and beverage operator (“even for an inexperienced user, it’s 10 minutes to load, stock, move on”), “we can also work directly with brands” that are already being sold in the subject venue and “want to use this tool to empower, educate and emphasize their brand,” Lauren said.

Who it’s for.

As for who The Boxx machines are best suited for, “the industries we’re looking at are casinos, hotels, airports, stadiums,” Lamarr said. “We

want event centers and venues, We want festivals, concerts. Anything that’s really high foot traffic and volume is what we’re looking to serve.” (They aren’t targeting bars or nightclubs with the machines.)

They’re also hitting some “family entertainment centers” as well as a hotel chain later this year.

“Hospitality is honestly one of the best use cases for this,” Lauren said.

As for expanding with Delaware North at Progressive Field, Lauren said the machines, which are “probably comparable to about 12 bartenders in terms of speed,” might even be added to stadium suites or used to serve comp drinks for season ticket holders.

“So there’s a lot of things that we can do, this is just the beginning.”

Read the article on BeerNet >>