Coca-Cola takes contactless to the next level


July 14, 2020 | By RetailME Bureau

As part of its latest technology innovation, Coca-Cola Freestyle – a touchscreen soda fountain introduced by The Coca-Cola Company in 2009 – is enabling contactless pouring of the drink from a smartphone. This comes as the company’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic that is reshaping the food service industry and consumer behaviour.

Also read: Consumers demand contactless in their shopping journey

A new contactless Coca-Cola Freestyle solution enables consumers to use their smartphones to choose and pour a drink, without having to sign up for a membership or download an app. The mobile experience works on any smart device and was piloted earlier this summer at select Wendy’s, Five Guys and Firehouse Subs restaurants in Atlanta, US.

So, how does it actually work?

“Hold your camera up to the display auto-scans a QR code on the display, which immediately connects to the cloud and brings the Coca-Cola Freestyle user interface to your phone,” explained Michael Connor, chief architect, Coca-Cola Freestyle. “You then select from the full menu of brands and flavours – and pour. The idea is to be safe, seamless and fun.”

The Coca-Cola Freestyle team developed this touch-free experience within a week amidst COVID-19 lockdown took effect. The idea is to make all the Coca-Cola Freestyle dispensers contactless-compatible by end of 2020.

“All Coca-Cola beverage dispensers are safe with recommended care and cleaning,” added Chris Hellmann, vice president and general manager, Coca-Cola Freestyle. “But given these uncertain times, people may prefer a touchless fountain experience. It has been exciting to see our team continuing to innovate – mostly from home – to meet the evolving needs of customers and consumers. Our partners are doing everything they can to maintain a safe and hygienic dining environment, and we’re doing all we can to ensure they can continue to pour the beverages their guests desire on a platform they love.”

Further, Coca-Cola Freestyle is patenting a touch-free, optical dispensing solution for legacy fountain dispensers. Sensor-enabled levers will detect the presence of a cup under the nozzle and pour the drink. When the cup is removed, pouring will automatically stop.

“Restaurants have been among the hardest-hit businesses during the pandemic due to dining room closures. Our goal is to provide a variety of solutions so our partners can offer consumers the Coca-Cola beverages they love while driving critical revenue to their bottom line,” concluded Hellmann.

 

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