March 16, 2001, 12:00 AM

Vending machines connecting to the web

e-Vend.net has come up with a software package that converts standard vending machines into web enabled machines.

Talk about connecting the retail point of sale to the Internet-now vending machines are linking to the Net so machine owners can get real-time reports on sales and accept credit and debit cards.

e-Vend.net has developed a software package that converts standard vending machines into web enabled machines. Machine owners pay a monthly fee for the service. eVend.net could not provide a figure because its fee structure is being re-engineered The technology is being rolled out by Kodak and the "Got Milk" campaign this year. So far, Kodak has placed about 45 disposable camera machines in zoos, ski resorts and other areas where people are likely to need a camera. Likewise, the Got Milk partners have deployed 100 milk vending machines in high schools and middle schools.

Vending machine operators can use the Internet to get data on a machine`s sales and inventory. This is especially important for the dairy group, says Wendy Jenkins, vice president of sales and marketing for e-Vend.net. When the stock is perishable, the vending operator needs to keep a close eye on rotating and replenishing, she says. e-Vend.net technology also allows machines to accept credit and debit card payment. In fact, that is all the Kodak machines accept. Kodak hopes to reduce vandalism by keeping cash out of the machines. The milk machines do accept cash. While Kodak is using new machines made by Maytag`s Dixie-Narco vending machine division, the technology can be adapted to any existing machine, e-Vend.net says. Maytag holds a minority interest in e-Vend.net, giving Maytag exclusive rights to Internet technology in its machines. The hardware consists of a mini-computer and modem that goes in the machine and a small antenna that is mounted outside the machine-it requires only an electrical outlet for power.

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