As consumers are willing to pay a premium price for chilled beverages, this thirst for immediate refreshment can help drive convenience retail stores’ ability to realize optimal profits. The role of a well-stocked cooler – offering the right beverages at the right time – is a critical component in this strategy for success.
With an eye on innovation, The Coca-Cola Company is developing intelligent cold drink equipment (CDE) that provides data and analytics to not only increase customer efficiencies, but also to connect consumers to the global brand.
“Our goal is to create customer value through the ‘network effect,’” says Pete Rohwer, Director, Equipment Commercialization, The Coca-Cola Company. “The connected cooler allows consumers to use a mobile phone in one hand to put a Coke® in the other, while providing retailers with real-time equipment data.”
The Connected Cooler
The Internet of Things (IoT) gets a lot of attention and refers to the ability of things like your watch, car, and home thermostat (just to name a few) to collect and exchange data. The result is an interconnectedness of our physical world with computer-based systems with the goal of increased efficiency and accuracy, and Coca-Cola is at the front of the pack with connected coolers.
“Connectivity is at the heart of advancing the communities where we operate,” says Rohwer. “We believe in that fundamental reality and want to be a part of the innovative solution.”
Innovation in Equipment
With innovations like the connected cooler, retailers will be able to self-diagnose equipment issues in order to optimize equipment return-on-investment, limit out-of-service time, and decrease technical failures.
Now and in the near future, retailers can play a larger role if consumers choose to participate and connect to The Coca-Cola Company. With the ability to contact millions of consumers personally via their smartphones, retailers will help support new product introductions, promotional initiatives, and loyalty programs.
The benefits of the connected cooler can be realized in several ways:
• Asset Control: The technology will transform the way coolers are tracked, so that it will be easier for Coca-Cola and its customers to see where coolers are and how they are performing. This will help identify lost, misplaced, underperforming and moved coolers as well as provide sales representatives with track routing for greater efficiencies.
• Technical Diagnostics: One of the biggest benefits of the IoT is real-time data. The connected cooler provides the ability to view information such as product temperature, compressor cycles and power consumption, as well as detectable faults such as door switch, lighting or evaporator fan failure. For example, retailers can identify a high-duty compressor running almost 100% of the time and determine the reason, such as a blocked condenser or faulty door gasket.
• Sales Performance: With the use of cameras and sensors, cooler door openings and movement can be monitored in order to optimize sales. For example, retailers may discover through the connected cooler that four large single door coolers had less combined activity than one small single door cooler. Or, retailers can identify low usage and cooler purity, as well as detect changes in shopper patterns that can be compared to daily sales figures and then linked to changes in cooler location, temperature, sales and promotions.
• Consumer Engagement: The connected cooler can have a huge impact on how the brand connects to consumers. For example, in Japan, Coca-Cola is already offering smartphone applications that award one free drink for every 15 bought via vending machines, or that send Spotify music playlists depending on the drink purchased.
Various trials were conducted in 2016 as part of The Coca-Cola Company’s Global Cooler Connectivity Sourcing Initiative (GCCSI). According to Rohwer, this strategy will continue through 2017. “The connected cooler is the next evolution in our ability to deliver a unified Coca-Cola experience,” he says. “We’ve gone from a machine that sells Coke, to an experience that sells Coca-Cola products, and now to a connectivity hub that sells Coca-Cola.”
To learn more about coolers, talk with your local Coca-Cola representative to find out what options best fit your needs.