If tech-enabled shopping was all about convenience, a new batch of IoT powered vending machines are taking conveniences to a whole new level. From a cup of coffee to your monthly need of groceries, you can now order your needs on an app and pick up from a vending machine near you. Vending machines are the new ‘intelligent QSRs’ in the market, writes Shwetha Satyanarayan.
“We were inspired to design a vending machine when my friend Neeraj’s mother had to walk a long distance to pick up vegetables,” tells Samir Duggal, the co-founder of KWIK24, a grocery and packaged food vending machine. While technology continues to alter the way we live, we buy and eat; vending machines are capturing the market in such a way that nobody could have imagined a couple of years ago. And as a proof to this, Duggal agrees that customers to their vending machines are becoming loyal customers and KWIK24’s vending machines are the dependable ‘grocer’ many customers in offices and apartments depend on.
So how do these vending machines work?
Duggal explains how a typical KWIK24 vending machine works. He says, “It is an IoT-based app, connected to vending machine, that lets you pick up groceries at the touch of a button from your office or home, and even helps you grab a quick meal, all working from your smartphone. Customers don’t have to stand in long queues to pay bills or hunt for coins to check out. The smart sensors inside the machine will push out orders and if a customer changes his mind, it will read the weight of the product and understand what they have picked up, and charge them accordingly. A customer can place an order for groceries from their phone, walk up to the vending machine, pick up the items and leave. The will be charged through digital payments for whatever they have purchased.
While over 60 machines are installed across various parts of Bengaluru, the founders plan to take it over 1,000 locations across India. If reports are to go by, BigBasket is in talks with KWIK24 to acquire the startup to expand its offline presence.
Meanwhile, Chai Point, which launched boxC, a vending machine service two years ago, too is believed to be aggressively focusing on its vending machine services. In a bid to capture the customers at workplaces, the tea chain startup launched the semi-automatic version of boxC vending machines in 2016. However, a few months ago, the IoT enabled machines underwent a look change. With over 2,000 boxC vending machines deployed at various locations, they contribute to close to 40 per cent of the company’s total revenue.
Chai Point, according to reports, is looking to deploy these machines at places where there are high footfalls like hospitals, large-format retail stores, corporate firms and other places. While its vending machines are currently deployed in Chennai, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad and NCR, it is looking to enter new cities.