Retail in the Digital Age
Breaking through tradition vending machines’ linear shopper experience, not only smart vending consoles support e-payments and live information, these consoles in 2018 also feature interactive experiences such as multimedia content either being pushed or on demand, Q&As and surveys, games, real-time discounts, even chatbots.
Cloud services are also another important smart aspect such that sales & operations are optimised for user behaviours, preferences and demographics. With this data-rich smart retail approach, shopper experiences are more personalised, and brands are empowered to reach out to the right customers.
It won’t be very far off when facial recognition widely adapted into vending, as well as vending experience integrated into blockchain and other technologies which makes smart consoles one of the coolest neighbourhood must-haves.
Smart City — Hong Kong
Research from Euromonitor 2016 shows that Vending was an HK$358 million industry for Hong Kong back in 2015. Funny enough, it was most likely based on traditional vending machines as Hong Kong had never been in the forefront of the smart vending business: 24/7 convenience stores are of plenty, literally a few steps apart from each other in some areas.
While the 350 million number has been stagnant, smart vending consoles had yet to come for years until the recent 8–12 months. Hong Kong has its own unique problems of high entry cost into supermarket chains and any sort of prominent exposures really for brands and products, and smart vending consoles’ extensive and flexible product catalogue, integrated advertising and big data capabilities work really well into tackling with brand and product promotions. At the same time, they add interesting offerings to all sorts of target audiences.
Gritus — The Smart Vending Startup
Gritus aims to bridge brands and customers, as well as retail technology and the Smart City initiatives in Hong Kong. The startup was formed Feb 2017 and the first official permanent console was placed Sep 2017. The company now has over 30 employees, with over 150 consoles placed in prime locations in Hong Kong.