VICKI: Will this smart kiosk transform your business?

April 28, 2021
Chemesis International offers turnkey automated CBD merchandising programs with AI-powered vending machines

Meet VICKI, a kiosk with artificial intelligence that could change an operator’s business.

VICKI is the vehicle that drives an unattended retail solution with the potential to generate significant new revenue channels for operators, with or without an investment. For the convenience services industry, VICKI’s arrival is nothing less than perfect timing.

CBD for sale

For now, VICKI sells CBD products as part of a turnkey unattended retail program from Chemesis International, a multi-national wellness company led by Josh Rosenberg, the current chairman of NAMA. ViaTouch Interactive Media developed VICKI and awarded Chemesis the exclusive rights to use the kiosk for the CBD unattended retail market.

“We see this as a great opportunity for the convenience services industry, especially at a time when operators are attempting to recover from losing as much as 60% of their revenue as a result of the pandemic,” said Chemesis president Rosenberg. “We are now fully deployed. We are looking for business partnerships with operators and we are rolling out programs right now. We can be a recovery solution for operators.”

Support from Pelican Group

Equipment placement will get a strong boost from the new relationship between Chemesis and Pelican Group, the leading vending and coin-op equipment management company that has agreed to deploy the CBD vending machines nationwide.

Rosenberg said that the demand for CBD vending is strong, with the top five location types being fitness, health care, institution, retail and pharmacy, all of which need VICKI to help control consumer experience and protect the retailer’s investment.

“VICKI also provides product support,” added Rosenberg. “When a consumer has questions, VICKI has built in FAQ capability and can educate and promote products in a safe and secure environment, one on one with the consumer.”

Attract mode

Vinnie Pappano, vice president of sales and category management of Chemesis, said that in an actual location, a customer might be attracted to VICKI because of an educational video that plays or because of sound that is coming from the machine as part of the built-in attract mode.

When the customer approaches the machine, they swipe their credit card, which applies a security deposit, allowing them to open the machine. At that point, the consumer can begin to shop.

Intellishelf technology

“The system works like a weighted minibar in a hotel,” Pappano explained. The “I” in VICKI stands for Intellishelf. The customer can pick up the product, touch it, feel it, look at it, read about it.

“There are also media capabilities that once you pick up the product, triggers educational videos, or media videos that suggest cross-category sales or alternative products,” she added.

Customers are only charged for the products that they take. They make the purchase, close the door and walk away. Once the door is shut, VICKI locks down for 90 seconds and goes through a UVC-sanitation process. Everything in the machine is sanitized before the next consumer in line can use it.

Multiple revenue models

Chemesis is giving vending operators a choice. Service the locations for a fee with no investment whatsoever or purchase VICKI units and the product inventory – the traditional operator model.

“If an operator wants to own the equipment, we get out of the way,” Rosenberg said. “We charge small fees associated with reoccurring costs to maintain the machine, supply chain management on the product side and category management on the consumer engagement side. The traditional operator-location model is fully available.

“We also recognize that some operators do not have the capital to outlay for equipment,” the Chemesis president added. “We set this program up so operators can still take advantage of the opportunity with no money out of pocket, but can create another revenue stream by servicing existing locations, increasing the revenue on their routes.

The investment and the return

Rosenberg said each VICKI unit is being made available to operators for $12,500 and he hopes to get the cost under $10,000 within 18 months. 

From a revenue standpoint, Rosenberg expects each unit to generate $50,000 per year.

“Right place, right traffic, right products. We have machines early on that will easily hit that $50,000 mark,” he said. “Think about it this way: if I can put one machine out and it performs at a level equal to the industry average of micro markets, would I not make that investment every day? I would and I think others will follow.”

Operators on board

Operators are already beginning to follow, even at this early stage. Chemesis announced this month that they have entered into a letter-of-Intent agreement with Elite Vend, a national vending machine operator and distributor.

Under terms of the agreement, Elite Vend will leverage its portfolio of existing equipment services and customer base to drive expansion of the VICKI AI platform for vended CBD products. Elite Vend will also provide fulfillment, distribution and technical facilities to Chemesis.

“Right now, we have five operators who are placing equipment,” Rosenberg said. “That will grow quickly with Pelican Group’s involvement.”

Seize the opportunity

“Wearing my NAMA hat, as an industry, we have an opportunity, because we already have the infrastructure, but we need to break our boundaries, we need to break down the walls of sticking with just traditional food and beverages, just like we did with micro markets and to now expand into retail products, especially in emerging categories like CBD, where we can move quickly, be first to market, and seize the opportunity,” Rosenberg said.

“I think if we do, we can capture a lion's share of the revenue and we can return to our previous revenue levels, even surpass those with an open mindset. I encourage and welcome operators to reach out to us and we can talk about the opportunity and what we can accomplish if we work together.”

Josh Rosenberg can be reached at [email protected].


Bob Tullio is a content specialist who advises operators in the convenience services industry on how to build a successful business from the ground up. He helps industry suppliers to develop successful business relationships with operators. Tullio recently launched a YouTube channel, b2b Perspective, designed to “elevate your business in two minutes” and is currently developing an online course, Leverage the power of LinkedIn to grow your business.


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