Free Will Sell SIM Cards Using Vending Machines In France

How do you compete with well-established mobile carriers in France, such as Orange, SFR and Bouygues? You automate everything. Free is proving once again that it can remain much leaner than its competitors by replacing brick and mortar stores with vending machines.

Clients will be able to subscribe to one of Free’s plans, pay with their credit cards and get a SIM card. The best part is that the company already signed a deal with Maison de la Presse and Mag Presse stores.

Free will first roll out its vending machines in “hundreds of stores”, but there are 1,700 Maison de la Presse and Mag Presse stores in total. Compare that to Orange’s 1,000 stores across the country, you can see that Free just signed a pretty significant partnership.

As a reminder, Free disrupted the mobile landscape in France by introducing a cheap plan. For $25 per month (€19.99), you get unlimited talk, unlimited SMS and MMS messages, tethering and, even more important, unlimited data with a speed reduction after 3 GB. And there is no contract.

The company was able to do that by staying lean for years. But now, if it wants to get more customers, it needs to become more competitive when it comes to in-store offerings. Yet, building hundreds of stores is expansive and could weaken the company’s margins.

That’s why Free will only open around 50 stores before mid-2015. If you don’t live in a major city, you will have to use the company’s website or these new vending machines. Next step for Free, upselling you with candy bars.