What Are The Benefits Of Smart Fridges?

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The humble refrigerator has become far smarter and more interactive in the past few years. Gone are the days where fridges simply kept food fresh. Now, they are fast becoming a highly autonomous and integral way of making life faster, easier, and smoother – not only at home but also in the workplace. Our working habits are changing and as a result catering services must adapt to our new flexible way of working. Smart fridge vending technology can accommodate these changes, which will be explored throughout this article. The rise in the adoption of smart cities and smart infrastructures are key factors in driving the growth of the smart refrigerator market. The Internet of Things (IoT) continues to grow, with new, smarter home devices and appliances becoming readily available through internet connectivity. So, what exactly is a smart fridge and how can it help businesses and individuals alike?

Smart fridges and micro-markets

A smart fridge is essentially an appliance with all the cooling and freezing properties of a regular fridge, but it is also connected to the internet and incorporates other features such as contents and ice monitors, cameras, and communication devices. It is programmed to link to the IoT at home, in the workplace or retail premises, in order to provide additional features.

Micro-markets provide the benefit of a large variety of food and beverages. But their main drawbacks are they require larger spaces. Also, as they are an open concept in a workplace environment, items may be frequently touched, raising the potential risk of theft. Micro-markets are still a somewhat embryonic innovation in the UK, with the principal concern focusing around trusting the consumer to adhere to Grab & Go vending processes responsibly without more robust checks. That said, appetite for the concept is growing.

Vending operators and manufacturers are exploring more creative ways to penetrate the workplace and fulfil the needs of consumers in locations that may have previously been less reachable.

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Enabling enhanced efficiencies

Technological advancement in smart fridges helps to remove the guesswork for operators, allowing for the collection of real-time sales data, inventory management & updates, and diagnoses of potential problems, all thanks to cloud-based services. Dynamic shelf management granted by this technology enhances sustainability levels and reduces potential maintenance costs.  Additionally, this allows for easier machine management and assists with the pushing of advertisements or promotions.

Smart-Fridge technology has wide-reaching applications to provide a better customer experience. Take for example vending machines. Most of their modern variations already implement Near Field Communication (NFC) to enhance their customer experience. Fully unattended machines, relying on sensors to determine what a customer has taken, can calculate transactions and apply this to customers’ cards. Depending on their stock of choice, these vending machines may be able to offer fresh produce 24/7, with their stock status continually tracked and monitored remotely.

The Value of Smart-Fridges for Retailers & Catering Companies

When businesses are looking to improve their customer offering, they always have to remain mindful of the costs incurred. Smart fridges with their low cost and consistent 24/7 sales capabilities can offer such a value-enhancing addition. As well as appearing modern and appealing, these kiosks also provide a great opportunity for external and customer interface branding while expanding the retail footprint. This upgrade in tech can also enhance customer intimacy, far beyond that available in legacy systems. Implementing this convenient system, that can take advantage of the grab & go trend, will prove its value in the retail and catering industry.

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The Customer Journey

The purpose of this technology is to enhance the customer experience. When customers interact with a machine the first thing they are asked to do is pre-authorise their cards. This unlocks the door, allowing for items to be taken from the fridge. Once they have taken their goods and closed the door the machine gets to work. Using the device’s sensors, the fridge determines what has been taken and calculates the price of these goods. The final stage is the processing of the payment, which should occur swiftly, ensuring security for both the customer and the vendor. To make the purchasing experience completely seamless, additional services are required to ensure all capabilities are provided for. This includes the ability to perform a refund in the event of a customer’s complaint. Once all capabilities have been considered, these technological evolutions aim to make customer interactions streamlined, easy and hassle free.

Getting ahead of the curve

The rise of smart fridges and micro-markets is opening new, untapped opportunities for operators and vending manufacturers. But to be successful, they require the leveraging of technological, cloud-based or connected solutions. Merchants must invest in secure technology and systems, as well as the right commercial partnerships required to deliver exceptional customer experiences.

Worldline’s dedicated Vending Suite is designed to establish a seamless payment journey for self-service technology. Whether you’re a vending or retail operator, an integrator or a reseller, our solutions make kiosk integration simple, allow you to set your own payment methods and accept a vast range of payment options, as well expect speedy payment from us. Meanwhile you’ll be working with just one partner and one portal – from transaction to financial reconciliation.

By: Caroline Jeanneau (Head of Vending Offer, Merchant Services at Worldline)
Originally published at: Wordline

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