US department store chain Macy’s has rolled out vending machines for consumer electronics to 400 stores.

After a two-year pilot of the machines, which offer products from brands including Apple, Sony, Belkin and Canon, Macy’s has placed them in more than half of its stores.
Described by Macy’s as an “automated retail shop”, the e-Spot machine displays products securely, as well as providing product information and comparisons via a touchscreen.

The machines are designed to improve on the online buying experience by giving consumers instant gratification. Products range from mobile accessories to iPods, digital cameras and camcorders, costing from US$14.99 to US$349.99 (£7.50 to£176.50).

Macy’s vice-president of customer operations Chris Mizer said: “It became increasingly obvious that our customers were looking to us for this calibre of electronic product. They wanted one-stop, no-fuss shopping and we are responding. Customers tell us that they love the no-pressure environment e-Spot provides.

“Getting product information easily without pressure and not waiting for someone with a key to unlock a cabinet or get the product from a back room – this is the type of comfortable shopping environment that today’s technology buyer appreciates.”

Macy’s said that if a customer knows what they want they can complete a purchase in two minutes. After confirming a product selection, the customer swipes a credit card or Macy’s giftcard. When the transaction is complete the product is released. Returns are accepted by mail. The customer must call a freephone number to get a return form.

The machines are provided and operated by ZoomSystems.