What to do in Las Vegas when you’re not into gambling? Dive into history! The part of town that started it all is now called the “Freemont Street Experience”. I won’t go into details of the curved roof which is a half-mile screen featuring rock bands every full hour. One of the older casinos around is the “Golden Nugget” where – they claim – the largest golden nugget ever found is on display; a cool 875 troy ounces of gold and well worth seeing.
Opposite of the display we spotted an actual gold vending machine. I blogged about them earlier but so far had never seen one. So what are they like? First impressions first: design and purpose are perfectly aligned: the machine looks and feels solid and golden.
There are two parts to the machine: the actual “business” space and an information panel. Let’s start with the latter: the panel tells you exactly what brands you will get, and who you are getting them from. Given the amount of money involved in each transaction providing this level of detail is crucial. The machines are built and operated by a German company named Ex Oriente Lux AG, a name leaving room for imagination as to its origin and meaning. Alas, their website is http://www.gold-to-go.com which then ruins everything. Both are valid ways to go but I wish they had decided to be consistent on one.
The information panel also tells you the products inside are provided by Credit Suisse and Heraeus, both very credible names in the industry. But then the fine print: “and other producers” leaving all options open again, and softening the promise. I wish they wouldn’t do that.
I am also curious if customers might be deterred by the German customer service number. What if the wrong product comes out, or if any other problem occurs during a transaction? Why is there no domestic customer service available?
Now to the main space which is where you buy products. A great combination of product images and actual samples on display, illuminated individually corresponding to your selection. Current prices are directly on the button so there is no ambiguity. I didn’t go as far as to buy anything so I cannot report about my checkout experience. But it seems like there is great ease of buying an item, the controls are very intuitive.
Bottom line: after having seen the machine I love the business model even more, and I wonder if the company should not deploy the machines more rapidly to high-end shopping malls and other places where people with money go more frequently, and in more familiar environments than amusement areas where neighboring buildings offer “Beef, Booze, Broads”, or airports where the TSA might ask you unpleasant questions regarding the nature of your purchase.
On their website, the company is offering tons of news clips, links, pictures and such, but I was unable to find an annual report that might answer my next question: are they making any money? Ex Oriente Lux is a publicly traded company so reports should become available at some point (or maybe they are, and I overlooked them) so let’s see how they do. At any rate, I love the idea, it’s a German company…. so I wish them tons of good luck with their business model. And I promise, next time I see a machine I’ll buy something.