Retail

Mobile POS is the Newest Fast Food Habit

Create: 03/20/2017 - 18:56

Photo: Habit Burger Grill

 

Habit Burger Grill, a 40-year-old chain that originated in Santa Barbara, CA, was on the hunt for a more streamlined way to offer high-quality food. It needed to combine tasty food with a great customer service ordering and payment experience that it could replicate anywhere, whether in its restaurants, at a drive-through, or in the compact kitchen in one of its food trucks.

Without the physical space to host bulky POS systems for order processing in every space, Habit IT turned to tablets. “Our restaurants are typically 1,600 to 2,400 square feet, so we needed to move to mobile devices,” says Mike Repetii, Vice President of Information Technology, Habit Burger Grill, in a recent company video. He noted that space in the restaurants—and especially in the food trucks—doesn’t allow Habit Burger’s customer service employees to use a full keyboard, mouse and monitor setup.

So it switched to a fleet of Intel® IA-based devices, including the Dell Latitude 10 and Dell Venue tablets running Windows. The company installed its point of sale (POS) on the tablets, making them into full-function mobile ordering and payment tools. The devices, powered by the energy-efficient Intel® ATOM™ and Intel® Core™ i5 processors and hot-swappable batteries, keep Habit’s mobile workforce connected and ready to take orders from anywhere, from brunch to 10 p.m. closing time.

“Habit Burger partnered with us to revolutionize order processing,” says Intel Americas GM CJ Bruno in an article in CRN. “They sent up customer satisfaction and drove down customer wait time” by moving to an IoT solution.

Trucking Along

For its food trucks, Habit Burger added portable credit card readers to the solution, making the customer experience at the Habit food trucks identical to the in-store experience. The cashiers can work inside or outside the truck, making order taking easy.

The focus of the mobilized crew is on keeping wait times short. The Habit servers bring the cash register directly to the restaurant guests whether they are inside the restaurant, in a long line and outside, or by the drive-through. According to the company, Habit’s mobilized workforce have reduced a customer’s wait time from 15 minutes to 11 minutes.

Habit’s tablets are not only mobile cash registers, they are also multi-function devices, as managers use them for operational tasks, including inventory control, restaurant management and e-learning for employee onboarding.

IoT is Top Dog

Hamburger chains aren’t the only ones cooking up new IoT solutions. Mohamed Eloraby, Director of IT Restaurant Systems at Galardi Group, built a mobile solution using an Intel architecture for Wienerschnitzel. Based in Newport Beach, CA, the restaurant brand is the world’s largest hot dog chain, with 358 locations.

fast food point of sale POS

Photo: IoT@Intel

The goal of the Wienerschnitzel system was to enhance the customer experience and reduce operations costs. Eloraby’ IT team developed a “tablet-based line-buster” that helps operations teams better manage their lunch-and dinnertime crowds. “If the drive-through line gets too long, a team member uses the tablet to take drive-through orders,” says Eloraby. Customers then pull up to the window to pay as usual.

His team decided on the TabletKiosk eo a7400 Ultra-Mobile Tablet PC with the Intel Atom™ processor N2600 and Windows. The tablet met the company’s criteria and was more cost-effective than other solutions it tested. TabletKiosk was also very responsive as a vendor, as it provided loaner units when they ran several pilots and gave the group tips on how to lock down the software from the USB port. “That was important for us in securing the devices and minimizing any inappropriate use of the devices,” explains Eloraby.

Beefing Up the Mobile POS Solution

For solution providers deploying restaurant POS tablets, Eloraby offers this pro tip: “Choose devices that suit users and the way they work. For example, many Wienerschnitzel restaurants are located in California and Texas, so screen glare was an important consideration as we evaluated. We also provided a stationary umbrella that employees can stand under, and we provided tablets with a protective case and strap, so employees don’t have to worry about dropping the unit.”

Learn more about the roving ordering solution, watch the Habit Burger Grill video or read the blog about IoT in use at Wienerschnitzel.

Smart Lights in Stores Can Pinpoint Exact Location of Shoppers

Create: 03/17/2017 - 14:16
Philips smart lighting for retail

Photo: Philips Lighting

Retail stores have traditionally relied on a tag team approach to identify customer location, using GPS to tag general location and combining that data with Wi-Fi and standalone, battery-operated beacons. Using this big three, a store can glean a fairly accurate picture of the proximity of an in-store shopper. Now, IoT-based location technology along with beacons are being built into light bulbs, offering a more accurate wall-to-wall location solution for individual shoppers.

The new generation of smart lights from Philips Lighting can locate a shopper at a very precise 8- to 12-inch range, allowing the store to trigger promotions and other messages to a shopper’s smartphone based on exact aisle location. According to Gerben van der Lugt, Global Business Development lead for indoor positioning at Philips Lighting, these lighting solutions are “focused on proximity vs. positioning.”

Instead of sending a signal to a smartphone like a beacon system does, the LED lights in the store connect with a phone screen as soon as it is opened. Each light fixture in the store has a unique identification code using Philips Visible Light Communication (VLC) technology. The smartphone camera detects the code in the light and identifies its precise location.

As van der Lugt explains in a recent article in MediaPost, “Every fixture has a unique ID and a small variation in the intensity of light. The camera of the phone can see the modulation, although people can’t.”

Philips Lighting for retail

Photo: Philips Lighting

For shoppers to get the message, they need to have the retailer’s app installed. The app ties into the store’s promotion system, so a consumer can select and browse through the promotions while they shop. The store can set up the data push so that the consumer can configure it to “show all the promotions around me.” The consumers also have to opt-in to receive the light-triggered messaging.

LEDs vs. Standalone Beacons

One advantage of having the location system in the lighting is cost. Adding smart lighting is an incremental upgrade, while installing a separate beaconing system requires a bigger investment.

Indoor positioning via lighting can also add value for retailers in terms of staff efficiency. Staff can locate and find products more easily, can tag issue reports with location information and can get location-based re-stocking instructions. Transmission of positioning data even works when the lighting is dimmed, according to Philips. Once installed, access to location information is controlled by the retailer, so the store can directly manage the customer or staff experience.

In addition to lighting-triggered technology, a retailer can include beaconing functionality in the light fixtures as well. So even if a smartphone was not visible but in a shopper’s pocket or purse, its location could be identified and tracked. When opened, the person holding the phone can be located to within a few inches, according to Philips.

Lighting the Way with IoT

Philips has done a major install of this LED-based indoor positioning for Carrefour, a leading retailer in Europe. According to a company statement, Philips indoor positioning system for Carrefour consists of 800 linear LED fixtures, a cloud-based location database and a Philips software development kit for the mobile interaction platform. As part of the installation, Philips software and cloud-based location database has been integrated into Carrefour’s mobile app, the “Promo C’ou.”

Watch the video on the lighting solution at work at Carrefour Hypermarket or read the case study

Robot Baristas Serve Up Coffee with Precision Caffeine Machines

Create: 02/13/2017 - 15:43
Cafe X coffee robot

Instead of a barista remembering your daily coffee order, now it could be a robot doing the same. Cafe X, located inside the Metreon shopping center in San Francisco, is the first retail coffee shop of its kind in the United States to provide customers with their daily dose of caffeine from the hands of a robot.

Café X, which opened in January, is the result of a partnership between WMF, the leading international manufacturer of fully automatic coffee machines, and San Francisco-based Cafe X Technologies, a startup focused on increasing productivity in the service industry through automation.

The founder of Cafe X Technologies, Henry Hu, recognized the existing need of coffee shops to decrease the wait times for customers, cut down operational expenses and make the cost of a cup of coffee more appealing to the consumer. His solution is a coffee shop run by a mechanical barista: a Mitsubishi 6-axis industrial robot, which can whip out 100 to 120 custom orders per hour.

Hu’s automation model is a feasible solution to what can be an expensive habit. Young professionals (ages 18-34) spend almost $25 a week on coffee, according to a Workonomix study. In response, Hu priced his espresso drinks competitively. Every type of espresso-based beverage on the Cafe X menu is under $3, which is a bargain compared to the typical $4 to $5 price in most San Francisco Bay Area coffee shops.

Steaming Hot Automation

Coffee drinkers at Café X order their coffee using a streamlined process. They can either place orders at Cafe X’s kiosk or use the Cafe X mobile app that is available for both iPhone and Android. In 25 to 55 seconds, the robotic arm pulls a cup, foams the milk and serves up the customized beverage. After the espresso beverage has been prepared by the robotic barista, customers retrieve their order by typing in their order number, which is sent in a text message or appears on the customer’s Cafe X mobile app. The robotic barista grabs the customer’s order at the waiting station and delivers it to them in seconds. 

Cafe X robot barista
Photo credit: Melanie McMullen

While robotic automation is old news in the manufacturing world, it is quickly seeping into retail and restaurants. Business Insider reports a $1.5 billion market for consumer and business robots by 2019. The consumer-robot market is the fastest growing, with the market for consumer and office robots growing at a CAGR of 17 percent between 2014 and 2019, seven times faster than the market for manufacturing robots.

Quality Control

Hu sees his mechanical baristas as the ideal solution for decreasing customers’ wait times while maintaining the high quality of the customer’s coffee order. “In today’s world, you have two options for getting a cup of coffee: you’re either in and out with something subpar, or you’re waiting in a 15-minute line for a great cappuccino. I started Cafe X to eliminate that inherent compromise and give people access to a tasty cup of coffee consistently and conveniently,” he said in a statement.

Since the robot can’t taste test, the company counts on local companies for inventory and quality management. Cafe X offers customers coffee bean options that include Verve Roasters from Santa Cruz, Peet’s Coffee from Berkeley, and AKA Coffee from Oakland. Representatives from these roasting companies calibrate their recipes on the Café X machine, and partners come into Café X and tune the machine to ensure the espresso is to their liking. The robot remembers the roaster’s specifications and brews each espresso consistently.

Learn more about Café X and its robotic cafes in San Francisco and Hong Kong. Sign up for the Cafe X newsletter, and its robot will pour your first cup of coffee for free.

The Big IoT and Retail Buy-In is Underway

Create: 02/08/2017 - 18:18

The reputation of IoT solutions and the enormous advantages they promise to bring are leading retailers put their money on the technology. According to Juniper Research, merchants around the world are expected to spend $2.5 billion on IoT technologies by the year 2020. That’s nearly four times last year’s estimated $670 million spend. This significant growth is a reflection of the great financial opportunity IoT holds. MarketAndMarkets has projected that the retail IoT market will reach $35.64 billion by 2020, and if you take diverse business models and objectives of IoT projects such as service revenue, spend and cost-savings into account, Juniper forecasts the IoT opportunity will approach $300 billion annually by the same year.

In the recently released IDC Spending Guide, the retail market was singled out as one of the high growth sectors. “A fairly close relationship exists between high-growth IoT use cases in consumer product and service-oriented verticals like retail, insurance and healthcare,” said Marcus Torchia, research manager for IoT at IDC’s Customer Insights and Analysis team. “In some cases, these are greenfield opportunities with tremendous room to run.”

Marketing Where the Decisions Are Made

Everyone knows that marketing is essential to the success of a retail business, and retailers are getting smarter about spending their marketing money where the decisions are made. Retailers are investing big on location-based marketing, a disruptive IoT-enabled technology that reaches customers in the moments that matter—when they’re in-store, actively shopping. Which makes a lot of sense, since according to Google research 84 percent of customers use their smartphone to help them make purchase decisions while they’re shopping in brick and mortar locations.

The retail market’s implementation of IoT-powered location-based technology is growing rapidly—specifically the use of beacons, the technology key to getting pertinent advertising to customers the moment they walk in the store. BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, expects the beacon installed base to increase from 96,000 in 2015 to 3.5 million in 2018. Target, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Neiman Marcus, Macy’s, Urban Outfitters, Best Buy, Walmart, and many, many other retailers are firmly on board the beacon bandwagon.

The success of this marketing tool has already helped numerous retailers take advantage of how their customers make buying decisions during busy shopping months. inMarket, one of the world’s largest beacon platforms, says its analysis shows its platform influenced $14.5 billion in consumer spending during the Black Friday weekend in 2016.

Getting Smart About Inventory Management

IoT is giving familiar RFID technologies a big makeover, extending its capabilities like never before. And since the technology is now considerably cheaper than it used to be, item level tagging is finally a financially reasonable option. In the early 2000s a single RFID tag might cost $1, while today it’s closer to 10 cents.

This IoT-powered RFID item level tagging is transforming how retail businesses manage their inventory. The new capabilities include the ability to automatically scan incoming deliveries rather than scanning by hand, enabling companies to access a real-time, comprehensive view of their inventory, whether that’s checking stock numbers available for online sales or locating a certain item in-store, automatically maintaining the environment for temperature sensitive objects, and much, much more. The possible applications are endless, and the benefits numerous.

The numbers don’t lie. According to a recent Retail Wire report, the use of RFID tags improves inventory accuracy by 32% and decreases out of stock item incidents by 50%, resulting in a sales increase of 18%.

All of this makes a persuasive case, eliciting a surge of adoption by retailers. Retailers used 5 billion RFID tags in 2016, and that number is expected to rise to 7 billion in 2017, according to IT Jungle.

Expanding the Realms of Possibility

IoT technologies hold amazing potential for meeting customers’ exhausting demands and producing money-saving efficiencies. From the ability to create personally tailored and immersive shopping experiences for customers in the store environment to improving distribution and inventory processes to transforming the purchase process, it is a solution-set whose time has come. And it has the ability to do all of this while producing a massive amount of valuable shopper data.

"Retailers are beginning to see an expanding number of use cases from among the rapidly expanding set of identified opportunities. Retailers are going to want to look more seriously at the IoT as a game-changing technology that can introduce significantly new productivity and efficiencies and new service capabilities into their enterprises,” said Robert Eastman, research manager, Retail Omni-Channel IT Strategies, in IDC’s recently released perspective paper on IoT and retail.

Learn more about how Intel can help your retail customers take advantage of the growing benefits of IoT-powered solutions.

IoT Bubbles Up to Power an Interactive, Personalized Digital Soda Fountain

Create: 01/19/2017 - 13:23

The battle of Coke vs. Pepsi rages on—this time with a twist of IoT. A new digital drinking fountain technology, Pepsi Spire, is hitting restaurants, movie theaters and college dining halls, and it offers consumers a way to create their own favorite soda.

Powered by the Intel® NUC, Pepsi Spire is a self-serve digital soda fountain that lets users mix personalized drinks by adding flavor shots of their own choosing. Consumers who crave a raspberry lemon Mountain Dew or a Diet Pepsi with vanilla and strawberry can push a few buttons and the Spire dispenser makes it on the fly. According to Pepsi, the largest version of the smart machine is capable of making more than 1,000 different beverage combinations.

Pepsi Spire 5.0 IoT soda fountain

Photo credit: Pepsispire.com

PepsiCo realized several years ago that the soda fountain was in need of a makeover. “Soda fountains in pharmacies and apothecaries, where all this started, were points of engagement where an amazing amount of creativity and innovation took place,” said Brad Jakeman, President of PepsiCo’s global beverages group in an article in The New York Times. “But somewhere along the line, the experience turned into a transaction, and that’s got to change.”

PepsiCo is confident that Spire will be the change, creating a means of introducing customers to their latest products and flavors. Designed to compete with Coca-Cola’s Freestyle drink mixing machine, Spire has the appearance of a large tablet or iPhone. Customers use a touchscreen to select and blend flavors.

PepsiCo uses the ample touch screen to offer consumers not only a way to mix their drinks, but also to give them a chance to enter contests and watch videos of celebrities promoting Pepsi products. Spire is currently available in several U.S. restaurant chains, including Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell.

The Consumer Calls the Shots

PepsiCo worked with New York-based Firstborn, a digital interface design firm to build the interactive touch experience for Spire. The mission for Firstborn was to turn a traditional retail channel—the soda fountain—into a digital multimedia experience. The goal was to give Pepsi a new connection with its customers and solidify their relationship to PepsiCo and its portfolio of beverage brands, including carbonated and non-carbonated juices and waters. PepsiCo wanted to engage with customers in a different way, creating an experience that would drive soda sales and increase traffic to restaurants that use Spire.

To add energy to the interface design, Firstborn captured high-speed video of pouring/moving drinks and built animation “bubbles,” which it displays as the customer chooses their mix of flavors. The Spire soda fountain is connected to a network, allowing for real-time updates from the retailer, who (with some models of Spire) can include their own custom content and promotions during the ordering process.

Capturing Liquid Data

The Pepsi Spire lineup has three models:

  • Pepsi Spire 1.1, a countertop self-service unit that allows for 40 beverage combinations and has a 10-inch touchscreen.
  • Pepsi Spire 2.0, a countertop self-service unit that allows for 500 beverage combinations and has a 15-inch touchscreen. It is also available as a countertop unit for restaurant staff.
  • Pepsi Spire 5.0, which provides 1,000 beverage combinations using a 32-inch touchscreen. This equipment is available as a self-serve countertop or as a free-standing unit.

According to PepsiCo, the Spire 2.0 and 5.0 are smart dispensers, allowing PepsiCo and its restaurant customers to identify popular beverage customizations, gain real-time consumer preference insights and remotely update the touchscreen content.

Watch a short video of an install of Pepsi Spire at Subway headquarters. Find more information at www.pepsispire.com or follow @PepsiSpire on Twitter. If you want to see it action, check out the Spire location map or stop in at any of the Intel Cafés in Santa Clara, CA, and mix yourself a cold one. 

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