Vending machines invoke new technology to attract shoppers

Customer service is the cornerstone of a retail business. So could the vending machine industry really make people more easily give their money to a machine rather than a person with a friendly smile?

The secret lies in technology and convenience, according to the National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA), which represents the vending machine industry.

With gas prices and the recession not sparing even this $30 billion segment of the retail market, vending merchants are looking at swanky machines that dispense everything from deep-dish pizzas to prescription drugs to nab more customers.