Our industry’s history is based on only one of the five senses — the sense of sight. We are displaying (the retail word is ‘merchandising’) products for sale in vending machines. Visual merchandising is the primary way we appeal to potential shoppers as they approach and engage a vending machine.
That one-dimensional world ended when the Costa Express CEM-200 was introduced at the Intel booth at the 2013 National Retail Federation (NRF) BIG Show. This is a multi-sensory, intelligent vending machine appealing to all five senses.
- Sight: The Costa Express CEM-200 is attractive and eye-catching from a distance and even better up close. There is a 27 -inch interactive touchscreen. Members of the user interface team have worked on Xbox, PlayStation and the digital presence of Harry Potter, among others. The icons are easy to see and understand, leading to the next sense.
- Touch: Interacting with the CEM-200 is quite simple, making it easy for you to select a customized beverage. The sight and touch capabilities represent the application of gamification principles to non-game usage — in this case the sale of hot and cold beverages.
- Sound: You can hear the sounds of a coffee shop when you order and while you wait for your beverage to be prepared and delivered. The sound system designer mixes for famous bands like U2, Coldplay, Katy Perry and Oasis.
- Scent: Imagine that — the sense of smell is teased using a proprietary dispensing system. This is a primal experience. Smell, triggering the memory of aromas we like, is a powerful spark in creating favorable experiences — in this case shopping for a cup of coffee at a vending machine. The natural scent system was developed together with leading perfumers in Paris.
- Taste: Last, and by no means least, is the absolute necessity to deliver a good tasting product. My cappuccino was delicious. Judging by the crowds at the Intel booth during the two days I was at the NRF, the Costa Express was always busy serving good tasting beverages. Their objective is to serve the same great tasting drinks at their cafes and from the CEM-200.
Costa required multiple partnerships
This is a 21st century vending intelligent machine designed by an international consortium from six countries directed by Costa. Pininfarina (designers of Ferrari and Maserati cars) provided the exterior design. The internal design is inspired by aerospace technology. As part of its Intelligent Systems Group, Intel provided the “brain and heart” including operating systems, the Intel AIM Suite for anonymous audience impression metrics, telemetry and more. Intel’s Intelligent Systems Group works with retailers such as Costa Coffee to bring innovative technology into the shopping experience to create more relevance and entertainment for consumers.
Costa Coffee has made the CEM-200 easy for both the shopper and the operator. The dispensing process cannot function unless there is a cup in the well.
For the shopper: All products are fresh and natural — made to the same standard as the Costa cafes. There are 250 selection options available — both hot and cold drinks. The bean-to-cup brewing process delivers freshly-made coffee. You can add sugar or sweetener by selecting from the icon menu. Or you can simply take the condiments you prefer from convenient slots adjacent to the coffee service well. Payment flexibility is offered but only on a cashless basis — chip and PIN number, wave and pay, NFC, mobile phone. Here is a 21st century vending machine — and the future is clear — no coins, no bills — only cashless payments accepted.
For the operator: The machine is self-cleaning. The process is activated once daily by the operator. The stocking and daily operations are managed by the onsite operating partner. Scheduled maintenance is performed by qualified technicians on regular intervals (e.g., every six months). Using an advanced telemetry system with the Intel AIM Suite gives the operator powerful anonymous marketing capabilities.