Masterton is the unassuming home to one of the most innovative hotbeds of technical talent in the
In these humble
And the future is smart with artificial intelligence.
A Smarter Machine
With over 4400 machines, selling over 7 million beverages each year, CCA is the largest retailer in New Zealand by outlets. 25% of these machines are online, giving CCA daily visibility of sales and any issues.
In 2015 Andy Kerr’s team was challenged to transform customer interactions with vending machines into experiences comparable to what consumers might have with a traditional retailer as well as improve the programming process.
Kerr knew it was possible to create a vending machine that could offer happy hour specials; a vending machine that could automatically track sales and preempt maintenance and refill needs; a vending machine that could accept mobile payments; a vending machine that consumers would never even need to touch to retrieve their drink purchase.
The solution, it turned out, was in the vending machines already in use. The machines just needed to get smarter.
The cloud integration opens up a new realm of global interconnectivity. Because the machines operate on a unified digital system, customers could push a button from their phone in the US and have a drink appear at a vending machine in Masterton, New Zealand.
Kerr says humbly of this cloud connection, “What we’ve done is common sense. It just took us a while to figure it out.”
“These guys put me in awe,” he says of Kerr’s team. “They are still hand making circuit boards, when probably not five people in the United States can do that. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
An AI Experience
Inspired by Kerr’s innovation, Chambers’ team in the US set out to create a digital user experience to complement these newly-digital vending machines.
Chambers imagined sitting on a hot train and having a phone notification appear that announces a
Customers could jump into personalised chats with The
The first step was to create a platform to host these digital conversations. Recognising consumers’ desire for an experience already built into their devices as opposed to one requiring a new app, Chambers’ team partnered with Facebook Messenger and Pandorabots, an artificial intelligence (AI) web service that designs internet robots (bots) capable of personalized conversations.
Consumers can opt into conversations with vending bot via Facebook Messenger. Using data gathered through the customer’s past Facebook use, current location, and tone of conversation, the AI bot will adopt a local dialect and attitude personally tailored to each customer. Each engagement with these responsive AI bots promises a unique experience, as the bots develop a cognitive understanding of what’s being said in each conversation and can respond accordingly.
Just like the contour bottle became a visual icon of the company, Chambers believes that these digital vending engagements can become a quintessential part of the
“The spirit of the
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