With a background in vending, Zsolt Vaszary and his Hungarian-based team from tech startup e-Ventor, knew what they wanted to accomplish. They set out with a mission to create a solution that combined the accountability of vending with the customer experience and higher profitability of micro markets. The result is the evermart kit, which can be built into a cooler that is equipped with an electronic lock, instantly turning it into a state-of-the-art unattended retail solution.
Missing out on the full potential
“The emergence of micro markets, about a decade ago, revolutionized the unattended retail industry by giving customers a better shopping experience along with better product options,” said Zsolt. “In many semi-closed environments, the self-checkout micro markets are the best fit, but the full potential of micro markets was limited because of not being able to move into more open spaces like airports, hospitals, hotels and other prime locations for operators.”
Zsolt said the problem is now solved by the introduction of controlled access coolers such as the PicoCooler Breeze, which is powered by evermart. “By introducing not only door control, but real-time product recognition as products are picked up by the end user, public locations become viable for operators. Also, a single controlled access cooler is a great alternative to a vending machine, so a smaller location can still be served with a micro market cabinet serving fresh food and better, higher-yielding products,” he added.
PicoCooler on a new level
The evermart technology was first integrated with Minus Forty coolers, followed by the 365 Retail Markets infrastructure and the Pico platform to handle payments, inventory and telemetry. “The PicoCooler Breeze takes the regular PicoCooler to a whole new level,” said Zsolt.
The evermart solution
Zsolt pointed out some key elements of the evermart solution.
- evermart is not based on individual load cell platforms. The technology tracks products one by one, along with their location within the shelf. As a result, it can differentiate between a can of Coke and Coke Zero next to each other.
- The evermart solution is based on a combination of weighted shelves and visual recognition, which is not used to look at shapes or colors, but customer behavior.
- As opposed to visual recognition solutions, there is no need to teach the system new products. Deviation in weight from product to product (the same salad can have more eggs, making it heavier) is tolerated by the system and measures the weight of the products one by one.
- evermart is the only weighted-shelf solution to support fronting and pusher mechanisms, so product display can be optimized.
- The technology offers “auto planogram" functionality, so adding a new product takes seconds.
- evermart maximizes the utilization of space inside the cooler. Size and shape limitations do not apply. The auto planogram also adjusts to the width of the product, so by using a divider, the entire space is used.
- Inside screen allows for real-time feedback about what the system is recognizing. Recognition accuracy is 99+%, but the result is 100% because the customer has a chance to correct any product recognition mismatch. This means no calls to customer support. “Our aim is to see every customer buying cycle ending with the correct amount being charged and customer satisfaction,” Zsolt said. “That is only possible because of our internal display and barcode reader.”
- evermart is fully integrated with 365 Retail Market’s back-end system, so users of the industry’s most popular infrastructure can enjoy a painless introduction to a controlled access cooler.
- evermart is fully integrated with Minus Forty coolers, and Zsolt said that Minus Forty is their exclusive OEM partner in North America.
Banking Breeze units
“Banking units and replacing vending machines is really where the Breeze shines the best,” said Ryan McWhirter, vice president of product management at 365 Retail Markets. “We see people calling in and wanting to order 10 or 20 Breeze units at one time, not just one or two, like they do the regular PicoCooler.”
“Whereas, the regular PicoCooler is usually augmenting a micro market, being a micro market by itself, going into the corner of a busy office building, or serving an auxiliary population, Breeze is being adopted as a true vending replacement and being ordered at the same scale as vending machines,” he added. “We've had an installation done at a university. I think it was 24 units. Last week, I heard somebody ordering 40 PicoCooler Breezes at once.”
According to McWhirter, the relationship between 365 and evermart has been fantastic. “We've had a very good collaborative working relationship in bringing this product to market,” he said. “We are proud of what we have been able to achieve with them.”
Zsolt said he is grateful to both 365 Retail Markets and Minus Forty, as both companies have contributed significantly to the evermart success story.
Looking toward Europe
“After learning a lot from cranking up our U.S. operations, we are working to help European customers get access to the micro market experience and operators to the immense opportunities that come with controlled access coolers,” Zsolt said.
Focused on operator needs
“Everything involved with evermart technology is designed to benefit the operator and make the end user experience faster and completely frictionless. Ultimately, it all points to lower costs and higher revenues for operators,” Zsolt explained.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bob Tullio is a content specialist, speaker, sales trainer and business columnist who advises entrepreneurs on how to build a successful business from the ground up. He also specializes in helping suppliers connect with operators in the convenience services industry – coffee service, vending, micro markets and pantry service specifically.
Tullio delivers this promise to any company that hires him for a 30-minute or 1-hour Zoom call: "That short session will elevate the performance of your sales team.”
Tullio can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 818 261-1758.