In more than 200 countries around the world, about 10,000 bottles of Coca-Cola-produced beverages are consumed every second, generating sales of nearly $2 billion. Coca-Cola has such a huge amount of business and data that you can guess that it will use artificial intelligence technology to boost its business. But you might not have thought it would use artificial intelligence technology on vending machines.
More and more vending machines are now equipped with touch displays, wireless connectivity, and computing power. Is such a vending machine a gimmick or a gimmick? Is there a reasonable business logic behind it?
Why does Coca-Cola need artificial intelligence?
Coca-Cola produces 3% of the world’s beverages, and its unique red and white logo is recognized by more than 90% of the world’s population. But it’s not easy to maintain this leadership position, it requires a lot of money in marketing. In fact, as early as a few years ago, Coca-Cola spent more on advertising than Apple and Microsoft combined.
It relies on a lot of data to analyze why users buy its products. What caused their purchases to increase? And why did they turn to other home products? Now that Coca-Cola has a huge product line, the problem is more than just “letting users give up Pepsi to choose Coca-Cola.”
Drinks and other highly branded products, such as sports shoes and luxury fashion, have many similarities. Different brands of products in terms of functionality is only very small differences, but sales vary widely, depending on the consumer’s attitude towards the brand.
Focusing on research and development is the key to Coca-Cola’s success, not only in product development, but also in-depth study of customer and brand influence. The relationship between the latter two and the buying model is complex, involving a very large amount of data, which is one of the main reasons why Coca-Cola uses artificial intelligence technology.
“Artificial intelligence technology is the foundation of everything we do,” says Greg Chambers, Coca-Cola’s global director of digital innovation.
Artificial intelligence technology, such as distribution, logistics and manufacturing, is available in many parts of Coca-Cola’s value chain. But its first thing was to use artificial intelligence to improve the customer and brand experience, and all the businesses involved were the biggest beneficiaries of artificial intelligence.
What is the value of smart vending machines?
Coca-Cola’s application of artificial intelligence technology in vending machines can be divided into three levels, which correspond to the triple value of vending machines:
1. Laying physical sales outlets in places with high demand;
2. As an important contact to connect loyal customers;
3. As a display window for brands and products;
There are a lot of indicators for measuring the success of these three areas, and it is not easy to improve and improve them through data analysis. For example, how to determine the best location of the vending machine, whether it should be replaced, how to persuade customers to buy more drinks and give them the appropriate rewards, and which products to replenish inventory.
In many ways, there are many similarities between operating vending machines and running a Starbucks store. The difference is that there are no staff near vending machines.
So you should build vending machines in the direction of the stores you want, but it’s automated. When you break this goal down to the data you need to achieve it, artificial intelligence begins to generate value.
Determine the best location
Data modeling allows you to calculate the best location for vending machines, but this requires a lot of location data, such as traffic, competitor data, and data from a large number of other vending machines.
Once the machine is installed, collecting and understanding sales data is one of its important tasks. Companies need to use this to assess the differences between channel sales capabilities and estimates and make timely adjustments. So it’s not enough to just know sales data for a specific time period, it has to be real-time and can be passed directly to the company.
However, Starbucks and others have done much more to assess store performance. One big bonus for them is that they have more personalized insight into the deal. Customer loyalty programs and mobile APP play a key role.
This is the second place where smart vending machines can make a lot of value, but it just offers possibilities. Because it’s just a small part of the Internet of Things.
Attract loyal customers
Smart vending machines should be combined with the company’s customer loyalty program. If customers can use points to buy items, vending machines will become more fun.
In Japan, users can earn points when they purchase items on vending machines using their mobile app, “Coke On”. Coca-Cola’s user loyalty program has benefited greatly from its ability to get consumer shopping likes and historical purchases. In return, customers receive points and cash incentives to drive them to buy again.
In markets such as Australia, Coca-Cola has tried another interesting vending machine. Customers can order drinks on their mobile phones and then pick up their goods at vending machines. Similarly, customers who do this can be recorded and rewarded with points.
The innovation of the smart vending machine is not only reflected in its use of mobile phones and mobile Internet, but also in the installation of digital displays. With the connection and display of two elements, artificial intelligence has more room to play. This time, Coca-Cola used artificial intelligence to turn vending machines into a fully functional “smart” device.
Showcase brands and products
Vending machines have always been an important means for brands to display their products and brand image. Brands used to be able to put up posters on vending machines, but now as technology advances, the approach has become more flexible and diverse. Digital display technology allows it to display different HD images and videos.
Coca-Cola’s vending machines go further, based on artificial intelligence technology. Coca-Cola’s exploration of vending machines dates back as early as a decade. At the time, its first-generation automatic coffee machine could be given to customers with 200 different flavors by mixing different ingredients.
The new generation of vending machines has a large touch screen – larger than most home computers – and a mobile app. It also has a number of dormant functions that need to be activated, such as audio functions and optical sensors.
With these elements, the only thing that limits Coca-Cola’s use of artificial intelligence technology on vending machines may be your imagination.
All in all, the once humble auto-selling machine has become a smart device that can match any smart device in your home. In the process of serving its customers, it provides Coca-Cola with a rich source of data.
It’s not just data.
In addition to selling beverages and collecting complex data, Artificial Intelligence brings another added value — a personalized shopping experience.
When it developed vending machines, Coca-Cola teamed up with a company that focused on chatbots.
Interacting with chatbots has many similarities with buying drinks on regular vending machines. But people tend to underestimate the value of personalized experiences.
The best chatbots can show off their brand-appropriate temperament. Coca-Cola has now copied this model to all of its smart vending machines. It also adds a feature to these smart vending machines that allow them to exhibit different personalities depending on where they are and their environment. For example, automated trafficking opportunities on college campuses are more interesting, while the same machines in hospitals appear calmer.
In other words, Coca-Cola has injected more emotional shopping into vending machines through artificial intelligence technology.
At first glance, vending machines with artificial intelligence are like a gimmick. It might remind you of the robot image in Lost In Space, and he’s constantly urging Will Robinson to drink more Coke.
But when you start to analyze the function of vending machines from a commercial perspective, it’s different. This is just one small step in Coca-Cola’s use of artificial intelligence to improve and upgrade its business.
By integrating artificial intelligence in vending machines, Coca-Cola has improved its business in many ways, such as using location data to plan locations and providing customers with personalized and innovative experiences.
On top of that, Coca-Cola is experimenting with interesting things, such as testing Swedish customers’ knowledge of local dialects and augmented reality. Space constraints, can not be mentioned here.