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FMI Energy 2012: Retail Innovation and Cupcake Withdrawals

You never know what you will learn at a conference. Today at the FMI Energy & Store Development Conference, during a session on store formats and retail innovations given by Neil Stern, senior partner, McMillanDoolittle, I found out about a vending machine that dispenses freshly baked cupcakes. “Vending is moving into more and more cool and different things,” said Stern.

The cupcake vending machine is the brainchild of Sprinkles Cupcakes, a 10-store national bakery chain whose flagship location is in Beverly Hills. Next to that store Sprinkles has set up what its founder Candace Nelson calls “the world’s first cupcake ATM.”

In a video played by Stern at the conference, Nelson explained the genesis of the machine: “You’ve got a late-night craving and nothing but a freshly baked cupcake will do. We’ve got you covered.”

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The touchscreen ATM allows the cupcake craver to select from among a diverse array of flavors – from red velvet and chai latte to ginger lemon and chocolate marshmallow; there’s even a “doggie cupcake.” You pay with a credit card (no cash accepted at this ATM) and out pops your cupcake enclosed in a white box. Price: $4.00 – 50 cents more than the same concoction in the store, though probably without the line often encountered in the store, noted The Huffington Post.

The Beverly Hills machine debuted in March and a similar system just went live in Chicago next to Sprinkles’ store there.

Could this vending machine concept work for a food retailer's signature scratch-bakery item? Why not?

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