Does Tech Gadgetry Add to Smart Fridge Sales?

Discusses the difference between necessary and unnecessary features of smart fridge solutions.
woman looking confused at a complicated smart vending machine

Shiny Shiny Things vs. Practical Access

It’s easy to be dazzled by technology. After all, tech promises to make life easier, and in many ways, it can. As someone who’s spent her entire career at dot-coms, I’ve witnessed firsthand how technology can raise the quality of life. But if science fiction has taught us anything, technology always comes with a cost, or at the very least, a glitch. It is part and parcel of new tech.

Do you remember years ago, when places like Starbucks introduced smartphone tap-to-pay? I do. A naturally curious person, I was quick to try it. The first handful of times, it was a bit of an awkward exchange. Today, it provides great value, but I still need to be guided at times on where exactly to hold my phone.

With an unattended smart fridge, there is no cashier to guide you through the process. So will consumers feel as comfortable stepping into unfamiliar territory with their credit card?

For these reasons, unattended retail needs to be as simple and intuitive as possible. Vanity technology ends up in a losing battle against consumer behavior.

Bells and Whistles

facial recognition graphic

Tablets, LCD screens, retina scans, fingerprint recognition, AI audio assistants, UV light sanitation–these are just some of the bells and whistles that my team and I have seen on the market for fresh food smart fridges. All of these seem cool; indeed, our engineers have played with, prototyped, and applied the full gamut. However, at the end of the day, even though these shiny things were flashy and fun, we asked ourselves if these gadgets truly made buying your favorite salad more efficient. The answer was no.

Trouble is as Trouble Does

After mounting the aforementioned tablet, LCD screen, retina scanner, etc., our engineers ran them through their paces and wound up running into problems. The issue with adding peripherals is that ultimately they add layers of complexity for the end user and the operator. Why? Because it’s one more thing to break, and a regular refrigerator repair person isn’t equipped to fix it.

What’s Your Business Goal?

Two hallmarks of FoodSpot’s culture are empathy for food operations and an understanding of American consumer habits. We’re in the business to help food operators expand their sources of revenue and fulfill their customers’ fresh food needs through our microstores. We want our operators to make money and provide a great unattended retail experience for their customers

We’re seasoned FoodTech pros with a clear-eyed understanding of providing a comfortable platform for the average American consumer. The addition of tablets and other gadgetry can be easily adopted by younger generations of consumers, but since it’s our mission to democratize fresh food access, our design team went with the principle of KISS (i.e., Keep It Simple Stupid).

team of engineers at the drawing board

Moreover, our microstores are designed by food operators for food operators. In other words, at FoodSpot, we put our food safety hats on and look at all angles for keeping your food as fresh as possible. Add-ons such as UV lights might be great for sanitizing sturdy, non-food products like razor blades, but fresh food doesn’t fair well against repeated exposure to UV light–just imagine your favorite tuna salad sandwich repeatedly bombarded by sunshine! For a food operator, this means more spoilage and less profit.

I See It! It Looks Good! I Want It!

With FoodSpot microstores, the clear glass door and bright interior lighting showcase the fresh food. This aesthetic entices the customer and causes them to think, “That looks yummy. What’s the fastest way I can open this door?”

With his background in Neuroscience, our Head of Marketing, Isaac Wu, is a huge advocate for aligning our technology with consumer behavior. We’ve kicked the tires: the premium aesthetic of a large, well-stocked, clean, well-lit stainless steel fridge instills a greater sense of confidence for a consumer to purchase a $16.00 Bento Box. Our smart fridges entice, rather than alienate certain sectors of the American population. How does this impact our microstore operators? In a word: sales.

foodspot fresh food vending machine close up on credit card reader

American consumers are very comfortable using credit cards. Like traditional refrigerators, credit cards have been around for decades. In fact, credit cards have come to occupy digital and physical wallets more than cash across a wide age group. With this in mind, our design team decided to go with the path of least resistance: a regular credit card reader. Our smart fridges are not meant to change consumer behavior but rather, empower customer behavior with easy five-second transactions.

FoodSpot microstores are purposely designed to remove obstacles in purchasing. We’re focusing on your bottom line. When considering your unattended fresh food vending experience, a good litmus test is to ask whether or not an 8-year-old and an 80-year-old can quickly figure it out on their own. If the answer is no, your sales are probably suffering from technology vanity. Our leadership team would rather you pocket the gross sales from 145 transactions per day, instead of dealing with perplexed customers and the headache of tech break-downs.

To find out more about how FoodSpot’s unattended microstores work, feel free to contact us here. We’d love to hear from you!

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