Cooler Leaders: Arturo Tapia, Sigma Alimentos

Nexo spoke with Arturo Tapia, Director of Commercial Transformation at Sigma Alimentos, about his experiences investing in connected coolers. Sigma Alimentos is a global food company headquartered in Mexico.

Please tell us about your role at Sigma, and what you are trying to achieve.

I have worked at Sigma for twenty years, and nowadays I’m in charge of the transformation of the commercial area. I look at improving operations, technology, information, resources and integrating best practice from all over the world in order to drive better performance for the next five to ten years.

What are the challenges you face in achieving your objectives? What part do connected coolers play?

I believe we are at the point where we have to bridge the gap between our existing expertise, and the new information we can discover.

If you can’t fully understand what’s going on, and translate this into a vision that helps your team to make better decisions, it’s going to be a tough time. There is a huge need for companies like us to engage properly with customers, wherever they are- and likewise, we are at threat from new entrants that could maybe do this job better. Things like eCommerce pose a threat and an opportunity depending on how we react. We are therefore always looking out for tools and techniques that help us to perform better.

One of the objectives we have is to personalize the offer that we give to customers- every week, we serve 300,000 of them. So, it’s not easy to make a proposal to each of them in a personalized way. The way that information from connected coolers helps is to address a better customer segmentation, and to understand what the best offering is for that customer.

We are at the beginning of understanding what’s going on at the point of sale, and trying to connect with the other touchpoints in the area. Because of the nature of our products [dry meats, cooked meats, dairy], we are always on tables in homes, or in refrigerators- but we don’t know why customers choose to buy them in a mom-and-pop, a supermarket, or a convenience store. We have many studies and insights into this, but no single source that tells us about the product’s performance. This is our driver for collecting, and understanding data from connected coolers.

What kind of stakeholders have you involved in your project, and in pushing a strategy like this forward?

First of all you need to be very aware of what is going on with the sales team, what’s bothering them, what are their needs- what’s happening in the marketplace. Secondly, I’ve involved marketing, because we have a strategy for the brand, and we need to address each point of sale.

The finance team is also involved, because you need to have a profitable model; as are the areas that support the project, such as our eighty sales offices, with distribution and vehicle managers, administration colleagues, and so on. We need to be connected in a way that allows us to find metrics and processes that will help us in all areas.

My vision is that, in providing a solution, you can help not only the sales team, but make all processes more efficient; but it’s not easy.

Have you simply found new ways of working, to achieve this- or have you had to add new capabilities to teams?

Both of them. It has to be about new processes, new technologies and new capabilities, in many ways.

One of the things we’ve learned in the last year is that we must handle the change in a very professional way, taking care of the emotions and the needs of the people; our commercial team in Mexico numbers 14,000 people. It’s important to be aware of what they are thinking, and how we are involving them in this change- and training them in order to achieve what we want to.

How do you envision that the connected cooler data will be integrated into Sigma’s business?

For me, it’s an enabler. It’s going to help us to make better decisions for sales reps. Currently, it’s difficult to achieve a high level of accuracy in selecting the best portfolio, or location for a cooler. With connected cooler data, we’ll be able to see the number of times the door is opened; how many SKUs should be placed; if the planogram is right; whether the purity is ok or not.

In that way, we can help the sales reps simplify their way of thinking, and use their energy for challenges that I can’t solve with technology. So, we’ll help them with the basics, and train them in a more advanced way of creating solutions and proposals for customers.

Many readers of this interview will work for beverage businesses. Are there any particular challenges that a company like Sigma faces, that a beverage business would not?

We are a multi-category company, so we need to understand the best place to put our products- and mix them. There are people in our industry that think the best way to place products is based on the solution that you’re offering- for example, to provide for sandwiches, you place ham and cheese together. Others say that you have to think about category, and the need you’re solving: this could mean putting yoghurt out in the morning, and changing it to ham in the afternoon, because of what is typically consumed at different times of day. I’m not an expert in beverages, but it looks simpler than the things we try to do, because we have many categories.

And, as you know, we are not a traffic generator to the Mom and Pops [independent stores], so we need to allocate another kind of resource, material or communication that brings us closer to the consumer. That’s why we need to understand what kind of consumer is going to that location. Connected coolers give us the opportunity to connect with the consumer, to give a tailored promotion for that consumer, going to that fridge, at that store; this is the way we can track what’s going on with our brand.

How will you ultimately measure the success of the connected cooler initiative?

The obvious one is sales. That’s what you’re looking for, sales and market share.

The difficult task here is to find the correct time interval to measure. Sometimes you want to see a return on investment within one or two months, or maybe one year; but maybe it will take two or three years. It’s something right now we don’t know.

But it’s a no-brainer. I feel that, with experience, you know that you have to do it, because it’s going to help you to address many other things that you can’t yet predict.

Are there things you know now about deploying this kind of solution which you didn’t know when you started?

I think that we as a large company can sometimes forget about the basics. They are very important. Your data must be accurate, your number of customers- the link between the cooler and the customer, too- is very important. When you want to build programs like this, the first thing you have to achieve is to be clear that your data is correct.

Even though we have processes that we are not touching, what we’re doing right now is to clean and segment the database- because sooner or later, we’re going to use it for those processes. I’m taking care not to have to invest more time and more resources when that happens.

Secondly, try to understand what you’re looking for. It’s a basic objective: you want to be more productive, or more efficient; to send the message to your customers that you are a high-tech company looking for better solutions. So define an objective, and work on it.

What gaps do you see between what you still need, and what vendors in this market are providing?

I think the big mistake, as I personally see it, is that most vendors are providing platforms in which you can look at the granular detail of the data. For example, you may have detailed information on routes, on cooler maintenance, and performance; who is going to look at that kind of detail in each of the portals?

The challenge I put to vendors is: how do you translate and present KPIs around these alerts and measurements that you’re making, in order to help your customers make better decisions? And, for key decision makers, I need something actionable, that helps me to increase sales, reduce waste, increase productivity or improve performance in any sense. It also has to be connected to your own platforms, in order that the user can work quickly across all our business information.

What would you say to people who are skeptical about investing in connected coolers?

I would tell them that sometimes you should take a risk on something that looks likely, but which you’re not 100% sure will give you the exact number of efficiencies you’re looking for. With the experiences that you’ll have, and with the possibility of growing or thinking differently, sometimes it’s better than not doing something because you’re not sure of what the benefit is.

If you’re not sure, try with a sample, do an experiment at a scale that you can handle- but don’t do nothing, it’s a bigger mistake than doing it.

Cooler Leaders: Carlos Arango, Quilmes

Nexo spoke with Carlos Arango, Commercial Capex Director at Quilmes, about his experiences investing in connected coolers. Quilmes is the AB InBev Opco in Argentina.

 

Trade Marketing, Cerveceria, Gerente de Trade Marketing

Please tell us about your role at Quilmes, and what you are trying to achieve.

I look after Commercial CAPEX in the company, which covers coolers, draft beer, and post mix for soft drinks. I have under my control the cycle and lifetime of this equipment- from the very beginning when evaluating suppliers, to purchasing and defining what kind of coolers and equipment to buy; to making changes in the technical specifications that adapt to our needs. I work with finance to develop the budget, and with the sales force to tackle the challenge of where to send equipment in the market, and in what volume.

Regarding maintenance, I look after commercial and technical aspects: tracking coolers, and understanding the sales volumes. I work on better defining our technical services, managing the servicing in the field. My department also repairs equipment, and manages write-offs. Examples of measuring success include having a target of cleaning the draft beer pipes at least once a month, and processing cooler sales calls within a certain time limit.

What are the challenges you face in achieving your objectives? What part do connected coolers play?

We have many, many coolers in the field, and it’s not easy to be sure that the minimum sales volume in the store is good enough. We are also faced with the basic challenge of being sure where the coolers are. To know where, exactly, each cooler is in the field; connected coolers allow us to align this information with the code or the owner of the store in our database.

Secondly, we want to try, with the information we can get from the controller, to find some metrics that help us to have a better understanding of the business in each store. The idea of that is to give us a competitive advantage.

Do you think you know what all those metrics are, or do you think you’ll learn as you explore the data?

We have some ideas, some theories about how the data will help us. We are not yet sure. One idea concerns the ‘invasion’ of the cooler with products of competing brands; and we are also focused on knowing our market share in the store. That, to me, is important.

Another is, regarding the function of the cooler, to have a sense of the temperature in the condenser. It could help us to define if the compressor could break in the future.

Which stakeholders are involved in your project, and did you need to put any new capabilities in place?

Business information [BI] from the connected coolers is to be used in the whole sales department, including Trade Marketing; Pricing; Tap Sales; and Operations. We intend to use it in the whole department.

We are already working with KPIs in our department, and this is another way to work with them, so I found we didn’t need any new capability. It’s about adding new information to the current information we have, to make better decisions.

A lot of companies ask us where they should integrate the data that comes from connected coolers into their business. What is your advice?

In the beginning, we felt that it was ok to keep the information in the cloud [Nexo cloud], separate from the rest of the information in the company. But, when we really knew that the information was relevant for the business, we felt it should be integrated with our BI, and the company should have its own cloud, with all the relevant information of the company, to compare with the other information- sales information.

Our sales information should be integrated with the information of the controller, so we could have more interesting or more relevant KPIs. It’s not only about the KPIs that we can develop from the controller; if we combine the information from the controller with our sales information, I believe we can create more interesting KPIs for the business.

How will you ultimately measure the success of the connected cooler programme?

We’d measure success with more sales. But… not only that…

If we can make something happen that helps the consumer to perceive us as a better brand, in the long term it should impact the sales. Maybe not in the short term, but it’s also a good reason to do it. We are not yet sure how to involve the controller in improving perception of the brand. But this is not only about sales. That’s the obvious objective in the short term, but with the technology we will have the possibility to manage some marketing campaigns, for example.

Are there things you know now about deploying this kind of solution which you didn’t know when you started?

In the beginning, I thought that it would be quicker to develop the integrated hardware and software solution. And, maybe one mistake was not trying to find help in other departments in the company to do it more quickly. One reason for that was that nobody was really sure; partly because it’s seen as fashionable to have a project involving connectivity. But in general, people in the company are as yet unsure about how to benefit from connected coolers and then how to do it. It’s very new, and ours is not a technology company- unlike a bank, or a software company. However, if you look at the competition, nobody else is doing it, so we hope to take advantage of the time we have spent on this subject to date.

What gaps do you see between what you still need, and what vendors in this market are providing?

There are two things. Firstly, to have a website that is really oriented to the needs of the client. Which is not easy, because I don’t know what I need! So, the first challenge for vendors is to have a really good understanding of the business.

The other thing is regarding data mining, or some kind of methodology with which to classify or segment our clients. I am talking about the South America market, where it’s not easy to find a partner to work on this kind of thing. We’d like to take a second step, and take things further. Profiling case studies that I’ve read are typically about banks, or insurance companies; it seems there is no experience in the market in working with a mass consumption market like ours.

What would you say to people who are skeptical about investing in connected coolers? We hear people say that the business case isn’t yet justified, it’s not proven- and they’re absolutely right. What would you say?

I think the issue for people who are skeptical is more the cost of the solution; because nobody is in a position to say this doesn’t work. To me, cost versus benefit is where the discussion is. We think that this is interesting and new, and that probably we should do it; but in the moment when we need to define the costs of the project, we worry that it is massive. We’re talking about thousands of coolers. So, if you have a strong case to show the benefits are relevant, against the cost- there is no big argument against it.

Asset Tracking: How to improve your location information

Download here: Nexo White Paper – Asset Tracking – how to improve your location information

 

Your coolers are being automatically mapped onto your BI portal, but locations may not always be precisely accurate. What’s behind this- and what can you do to improve things?

The situation

Knowing the location of assets is crucial to your marketing equipment effectiveness, and budget. Coolers that are vulnerable to being moved or stolen must be closely monitored, while logging the relocation of assets improves the auditing of your asset registry, reducing costs. What can be done to ensure high quality in your cooler location information, right from the outset? The Nexo solution has been developed with this in mind.

The technology

Asset Management techniques

Your asset is located during the data collection process. When commissioned in field, and/or when the cooler is re-synchronized, the mobile device or modem used in the field sets a location for the cooler. The mobile device or modem, not the smart controller or beacon, determines the location. Setting up your cooler and its sensing technology automatically locates it in Nexo Discovery. You can then review the cooler’s location, at your desk, alongside that of your whole fleet.

A related part of asset management is the asset audit. The Movement History tool in Nexo Discovery shows a record of the assets that have moved more than 200 meters since the last time data was collected. Collecting data for coolers regularly ensures you maintain an up-to-date asset registry, confirming and/or changing addresses. And when data is updated frequently, and over a large volume of coolers, the precise location of assets can be improved upon over time.

This is related to the variety of performance seen in Smart phone location pinpointing. Why are differing levels of location accuracy found in different areas? The answer lies in the layers of technology used by most connected cooler vendors, including Nexo, to determine a location.

Smart phone location technology

How mobiles are located, this image shows the main ways in which mobiles and smartphones can be placed on a map

Smart phones determine their location through several geo-locating technologies. Cell towers, WiFi networks, and satellites- using GPS- can all contribute to the determination of a location. The level of accuracy varies across these methods, and is summarized in table 1.

 

Method Cell tower triangulation Wifi network triangulation GPS (satellite positioning)
Accuracy 100m 10-20m Less than 10m
Medium Good Good
Pros Widely available Accurate Accurate
Low battery consumption Low battery consumption
Cons Not accurate Depends on density of network High battery consumption
Does not work inside buildings

Table 1.

 

With all three location services switched on, a Smart phone will determine the optimal combination of these to use in each situation. It therefore follows that, with all three services switched on, you have the best chance of the Smart phone selecting the correct location. Note that the location of the cooler is not shown on a map to the person collecting data through the Nexo App.

 

Figure 1.

Using the Nexo solution to optimize geo-location

Nexo knows that the quality and accuracy of location data points vary (Figure 1). To address this, the Nexo solution has been designed to continually assess and improve the location data collected when coolers are visited, or polled by a modem. Further, to avoid incorrectly marking a cooler as having moved, a specially developed algorithm checks the quality of data point. In this way, the likelihood of the location data being high quality is continually improved.

In-field examples conducted by Nexo and its clients have shown that location data points can vary depending on terrain, urban/rural, and country. Furthermore, repeated syncs of data improve the accuracy of location data. As the natural process for managing Nexo connected coolers involves regular collection of cooler data through synchronization, location accuracy is continually improved through no deliberate intervention.

Yet, you can take steps to accelerate this process. Ensure that coolers are synchronized frequently to collect more location data points, as well as maintain all other Nexo metrics. Monitor the Location Management dial on the Nexo dashboard to help you prioritise coolers for syncing. Enable as many location services on smart phones as possible: the cellular network, GPS, and WiFi. Switching on WiFi is not, as is sometimes assumed, a drain on the battery. A good location estimate can be created: it will ‘listen’ for nearby networks, even if they are not in the same building.

Having a picture of the changing shape of your data can enable efficient planning. Consider the growth of both cooler numbers, and location accuracy, as the waves of cooler commissioning and synchronization are undertaken. Use table 2 as a way to frame your thinking.

 

Phase 1: low cooler number, medium location accuracy Phase 2: medium cooler number, medium / high location accuracy Phase 3: high cooler number, high location accuracy
What are your priorities? What kind of things are you going to focus on testing and evaluating going forward? What do you need to test at scale, that you learned in phase one? How can you maintain high levels of location accuracy?
How can these be combined with a focus on location accuracy?
What testing and education can be undertaken?

Table 2.

 

The future

Beyond the rollout of your connected cooler program lies the ongoing work of asset renewal. Each year, the addition and removal of equipment from service must be managed alongside servicing and sales initiatives. After you have set up your connected cooler deployment plan, how will information about the estate be continually refreshed? We recommend initiatives to educate maintenance staff, and regularly reassess asset processing, in light of the outcomes from the phases above.

Planning made easy: six steps to simplify cooler planning

Do you feel Nexo Discovery could work well for your business, yet have no clear idea of how implementation should be carried out? We know that there is always work to be done when it comes to planning new initiatives. Below, we’ve outlined six practical steps for rolling out a connected cooler program.

Phasing cooler data implementation for dynamic enterprises

Nexo works with bottlers and drinks brands across global territories and, through our collaborative work, we’ve formed an understanding of typical challenges. In a fast-moving commercial environment, there is often little time to devise processes, especially for the planning and implementation of data analysis.

We’ve summarised the steps that we believe will guide you through an intelligent exploration of your data- minimising time wasted, and maximising insight.

  1. Commission Nexo controllers to lock data to your ownership

Good data husbandry begins with care, and process. Your coolers will only appear in Discovery once they have been commissioned. You can choose to do this at the OEM prior to deployment, or in the field on routine sales visits- or both. And, our auto-commissioning process enables an OEM-commissioned controller to be automatically linked to your account, via regular syncing- meaning you can get on with the job in hand. Contact our service team for more information.

  1. Decide how to collect your data

There are two main ways in which Nexo data is transferred to Discovery. Your communication method is another flexible feature of the Nexo solution, designed to fit your precise needs.

Firstly, Bluetooth is used to transmit data via the Nexo app, from the device in your rep’s hand directly to your own Discovery portal. If choosing to use Bluetooth, you must choose whether to collect data manually or automatically, and give relevant personnel a briefing on how to do this.

Secondly, modem communication is possible, suitable for banks of coolers in single locations, and situations where it is less common for reps to visit coolers.

Which fits your way of working best? Talk to your account manager to gain a deeper understanding of the pros and cons of each method. You can also use both!

  1. Decide which coolers to evaluate, and which period to look at

What is the hypothesis behind your most important strategic activity, right now? Think about the specific type of cooler that this relates to- or the segment or segments you are targeting. Focusing on a sub-set of coolers can be a way to gain quick wins.

Time period is also important. Do you assess cooler performance monthly, or weekly? Should you match the analysis period to existing operations, or take the opportunity to test this constraint? Perhaps operations can be optimised.

For example, are there any specific outliers, spikes, or other trends in the data? These can be caused by unusual circumstances or events. Reviewing temporal data is a chance to look at activities differently. Furthermore, outliers, or ‘spikes’, should be excluded if you are seeking to establish base line statistics.

 

  1. Evaluate potential commercial and operational impact of data

Above is an example of a ‘decision tree’ flow chart you can build to help you work through the evaluation process. To reach this point, brainstorm all the possible implications you can think of- and then challenge this thinking by asking others to review it. What do expert colleagues say?

This can enable the building of a business case for experimental decisions. Quantify the possible impact of each decision step- with estimated revenue increase, or cost, or some other KPI measure. Once you have a set of possible impacts, and have assigned to them a value or other measure, you can build a picture of what you see happening along the way. What is the chance that you reach each stage? This can be evaluated as you go along.

  1. Design process change to test impact of data

Following the decision tree method and others, you will identify a strategic choice. Nexo Discovery helps you to identify the hypothesis, and analysis of the data will give you hints to the possible outcomes. This needs to be followed with action if you wish to prove your hypothesis, or to refine your strategic choices. Data in Nexo Discovery has already been parcelled into suggested action plans- but this is just the start of the potential impact you can make. Work with Sales, Operations or Service, for example, to define the final action, and to specify the process by which you will carry this out.

The actions involved in this activity ought to be monitored, to see how accurate the hypothesis of the strategic choice is – ‘did it work?’ Measuring and testing the process enables refinement, and success.

  1. Once there is confidence in the impact of the data, decide where to make data available, and to whom

Do you need to distribute the data into your existing ERP systems? Think about the nature of the data relevant to your strategy. If it is commercial, who must see it? If it is operational, how open should your data structure be? It is worthwhile thinking about the impact you’ve idenfitied, and what your business will look like in 12 months’ time. Who do you want to involve in this process- and to share in the success?

Nexo Discovery is built on an open, flexible architecture that enables integration into all types of systems. Speak to your Account Manager to discuss your needs.

 

Here to help

Planning your data strategy at the outset pays dividends in the future. We’ve given you some thought starters, above, to kick off your thinking. However you may wish to take further advice, and alongside its core services, Nexo provides professional services and training for customers. If you would like to discuss this, please contact Niazy Kioufi on niazy@nexo.com.

Practical tips for Asset Management via connected coolers

Asset Management has become a critical process to master for owners of fleets of coolers.  Preventing assets from being stolen or going missing, and maintaining a digital asset register are universal needs. Here are some techniques we recommend to tackle this, using Nexo solution data.*

 

When you want to prevent theft or unauthorized relocation

One of the key indicators that a cooler may go missing because of theft or relocation is declining commercial metrics. (It seems to be commonly the case that a lost cooler follows poor sales, although the causality of this cannot yet be proven by the data).

Nexo Discovery provides action lists for your coolers which specifically point out declining commercial metrics so you’re able to act on those ‘at risk’ coolers before any cooler theft or unmonitored relocation occurs.

 

  • Identify at-risk coolers from the Nexo Discovery action list
  • Check and reassess your visit plan against the at-risk coolers
  • Focus in on lesser trends to refine your cooler deployment plan: what is the right capacity cooler for each individual store?

 

When you want to rectify issues with your asset registry to reduce write-off costs

Another reason coolers go missing in the asset registry is because they are moved from shop to shop, and the movement is not recorded. Often, the rep in the field may know about these movements, but the asset registry is not updated, which means that when it comes time to audit your inventory the coolers are reported as having gone missing, and the cooler is written off.  This can have significant cost associated with it over your entire asset base.

An enhancement in Nexo Discovery is the automatic updating of the addresses and locations of coolers. This removes the need for a manual process when coolers are moved.

Nexo Discovery also flags up coolers which haven’t been visited for a period of time (a metric which is configurable), thus providing another indicator that someone should visit the shop or cooler to ensure that it is there and in proper working condition.

 

When you want to optimize your geographical distribution based on sales intelligence

Bottlers often tell us that they wish to ensure they have proper coverage of a geographical area. Nexo Discovery includes a new set of maps to enable this.

Heat maps, like the one in Figure 2, display key metrics such as cooler distribution, Door Openings, Footfall, and Conversion Rate. Used in tandem with your operational planning, the data can steer you to take action to cover various geographic areas effectively, based on how coolers are performing against your KPIs.

  • Using zoom and pan tools, navigate the map to find commercial ‘cold spots’
  • A small heat gradient surrounding a cooler indicates a good conversion rate, whereas a wide distribution of colour from red to yellow or green shows that sales are below average for the catchment area of the cooler
  • A cluster of high performing coolers in one area indicates high demand. Could these areas be suitable for increased targeting of consumers?

 

Nexo Discovery provides the tools and capability to effectively manage your asset base and prevent theft issues before they arise. Nexo Discovery was designed from ground up to provide easy to use, actionable insights from your coolers – leveraging big data techniques to determine suggested actions, so you can manage your cooler base effectively and efficiently.

Get in touch with us to discuss your specific need and how Nexo Discovery can be used to help maximize productivity from your cooler estate, on sales@nexo.com.

Or why not take a read of our latest think piece, Developing consumer experiences of the future: three tips for FMCG brands.

 

*Please note that the advice in this article is for illustration only, and that any steps you take based on data collected via Nexo should be based on your own analysis and data. Advice in this article may not be appropriate for your organization.

Developing consumer experiences of the future: three tips for FMCG brands

mobile lifestyle marketing out-of-home retail "consumer engagement"

What needs to be done to enable consumers to discover new, compelling brand interactions?

IoT is rapidly growing in importance for FMCG brands. The ways in which a connected device deepens the experience for the consumer- from a car that tailors tools to your driving habits, to a home store using a VR experience for tactile online shopping– present limitless capabilities to meet marketers’ objectives, now and in the future.

Marketers know that experiences, not technology itself, drive the adoption of new tools and interactions by consumers. What needs to be done to enable consumers to discover new, compelling brand interactions? There are three key areas that brands must align to take advantage of the opportunities presented by IoT.

Firstly, consumers need to warm to the notion of interacting with physical objects. We have begun to see this in the large scale launches of Amazon’s Alexa, and Google Home, and the future of consumer interaction will be primed by this type of lifestyle tool. The experience for the consumer needs a number of factors: they should not be disrupted by the process; they need to appreciate the value of the interaction, beyond rational acceptance; and they ought to be inspired by the benefits the interaction brings.

Secondly, the progress of mobile platforms (apps, and mobile devices) towards a holistic consumer experience will be critical. We currently know our mobile phones primarily as search devices, portals to our social networks, and media devices, so developing usage as a tool with which to interact with the exterior world is another necessary step. While technological development in this area is inevitable, earning consumer trust will be vital to enable full acceptance.

The third component of a successful IoT consumer experience is to provide an end-to-end experience for all parties involved. There’s little point in providing a coupon to a consumer if it cannot be redeemed there and then, or requires further effort to be validated. Equally, brands and retailers will not invest if a campaign’s return path analytics do not allow them to analyse outcomes and develop actionable theories. In summary, the tools that will enable the best IoT consumer experiences will be developed for the consumer and for the vendors to service specific and meaningful needs.

This will give heart to those taking the advice of the recent R3 Worldwide whitepaper, that pointed to a strong consumer dialogue as one of the key tactics in strengthening brands’ market share, in the face of retailers’ growing dominance.

Nexo Discovery is the leading connected cooler solution offering consumer engagement, together with operational management tools, and a sophisticated new approach to commercial analysis. It has been designed specifically for brands and marketing equipment management. Where human behavior is evolving rapidly on its own, and mobile platforms keeping pace, Nexo provides a ready technology solution for brands wishing to expand their relationship with consumers. The only challenge now is a creative one.

Take a look at some of our favorite tech-enabled consumer experiences:

Tesco – virtual shopping screen http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-19148154

Born Free – free an Orca screen https://vimeo.com/228971024

Molson Canadian – beer fridge https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gper3YkzMg

Heineken – Departure Roulette departures board https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cg0oBV32ZDk

 

Find out more about the Nexo solution here.

 

How IoT is transforming the cold drinks industry

Putting big data and proximity marketing to use to increase sales.

Internet of Things technology is making physical objects smart, connected and more effective. They can collect, measure and action data, sometimes resulting in direct interaction with consumers. Let’s take a look at how such technology can be applied to refrigeration equipment in the cold drinks industry.

By adding sensors to a cooler, you are provided with data to remotely understand how it is performing commercially and functioning technically. But IoT technology also opens up new marketing opportunities.

Enter the world of proximity marketing – localized wireless distribution of promotions, marketing campaigns and advertising – allowing companies to connect with customers and deliver a personalized experience of your brand. Your smart coolers can now engage directly with customers passing by the fridge via their smart phones, tablets and smart watches.

This is all made possible by beacons and beacon functionality within controller chipsets that send signals to attract attention to a specific location, in this case your cooler.

Adding beacon functionality to a cooler allows you to communicate with the consumer at point-of-sale. The cooler can gather data about a person standing in front of it, and deliver personalized messages to that person directly on their own smart device. A smart cooler should also be able to schedule, activate and report on the interaction with consumers. This opens up for a whole new dimension of consumer engagement; converting footfall around your cooler into increased branding and sales opportunities.

And what can these marketing messages be about? Anything from special deals to a reference to the weather; “Hey, it’s going to be 30C today – maybe a good idea to grab a cold drink? I’m right behind you!” But the communication is not limited to text and images – looking forward your coolers can also be turned into interactive and personalized augmented reality games, cameras and video players.

All of a sudden you are also getting the same metrics for a physical world campaign, as you would from a digital campaign, making them easier to plan and evaluate.

Now to be able to have you cooler connect with the people around it, they need to be open to receiving direct communication from you.

2016 report from Mindshare shows that 62 percent of consumers today are happy to share their data as long as they receive something of value in return.

Data can be attained if a person is already signed up through a participating app or social network; and the service allows you to send targeted messages and promotions.

Beacons have been named among the most important new mobile technologies in helping real-world companies deliver an interactive digital experience to their customers. Proxbook published a report for Q4 2015, indicating that 5.103.500 proximity sensors were deployed globally at the end of 2015. It is estimated that 400 million beacon sensors will be deployed by 2020.

According to data shared during a Boston Retail Partners’ session, 70 percent of companies plan to add beacons over the next five years.

Beacons are becoming a crucial part of bringing a digital experience to the offline world, to drive customer engagement through multiple channels. Making your cooler smart and taking advantage of the growing field of proximity marketing will help increase your cold drink sales and maximise the investment in the cooler itself.

Email sales@nexo.com to find out more.

IoT products at CES – The overriding lessons of success

The dust has now settled on another Consumer Electronics Show and unsurprisingly, as predicted, it proved to be the year of IoT (Internet of things), artificial intelligence, drones and automotive surprises. However, what struck us was the most compelling or successful product lines seemed to demonstrated a number of key learnings.

Collaboration and compatibility are key – (IoT) Internet of Things devices seem to create the greatest value to the consumer when they work with other technologies and platforms to be part of a greater use case. Sure, there are exceptions to this rule but they tend to be few and far between.

The IoT Hub/Eco-system battle has continued to gather pace – Apple’s Homekit, Google’s Nest, Samsung SmartThings, and HTC’s connect giving consumers a single familiar interface to control their smart devices. These enhance product offering by allowing control as part of a bigger eco-system. Those companies trying to develop independent or proprietary eco-systems, will need to either be outstandingly good or have a totally unique use case that no one else can deliver.

However, the most obvious lesson from CES, is that most disruptive devices at CES deliver simplicity, ease of use, reduce costs, or perform mundane, complex or unanswered tasks. The best, deliver on all of these.

When it comes to commercial technology, these are lessons that have been already been learnt by Nexo. With a suite of services for cold drinks brand, Nexo optimises profits for cold beverage companies by providing a simple, easy to use, overview of sales and performance, an unanswered task until now. Nexo reduces cost by minimising loss and allowing remote diagnostics of these refrigeration assets. The system even gives a touch point in retail with consumers at the Point of Sale. And the best part, Nexo can provide API’s for the data and insights to be feed directly into other business systems, or remote access via a secure portal ensuring the value of the system is always accessible.

The IoT at the Consumer Electronics Show

It’s that time again. CES, the Consumer Electronics Show, undoubtedly the biggest technology showcase in the world will no doubt deliver the latest and greatest innovations soon to be unleashed onto tech hungry consumers.

During the last few years the IoT  (Internet of things) has gone from whispered rumor to be the buzz word around the whole show, but what has it delivered so far apart from hype and excitement? Some would say not a lot, and the reason why is very simple. It’s not about the technology which already exists it’s about the use case which identifies what a connected device should deliver.

For example, a connected oven sounds convenient, being able to adjust cooking temperature whilst at the local bar sipping a cocktail, but someone has to put the food in the oven to begin with. Most of us that cook understand that there is more to it than timing and temperature to produce truly great food. How can you do this remotely? What master chef would risk leaving the Sunday lunch in the hands of an app that just manages the temperature of the oven?

It’s no doubt very cutting edge showing friends your latest oven app but what value does it really deliver? A simple temperature adjustment or on/off switch is not a strong enough use case. Today all ovens have on/off timers so no real new value  is delivered by a consumer having this on an app.

Until product developers and marketers are clear on the use case, otherwise known as value proposition then technology alone will not fly…. Even the big boys don’t always get this right.. Sorry google glass!

At the heart of commercial success, is understanding, what problem technology can solve for the user. Until such time that this happens and real value can be delivered to the consumers,  a simple IoT connected oven through an app, really won’t set the world alight or deliver global mass market penetration of IoT devices.

Maybe add more value to this solution by allowing the app to control more things or be part of a totally connected kitchen? Then we might be getting closer to mass market adoption but even adding a chain of appliances whilst making the product offering broader does not always add more value. At the heart of the success is understanding the answer to the simple question of what problem will/can this solution solve that is relevant i.e. needs to be solved for the consumer? Unless there is a compelling answer then technology will simply remain technology. Answering this question at nexo has been at the heart or our IoT development.

Let’s see what progress has been made at CES this year. Happy New Year

Choose the right ‘Smart’ device this Christmas.

It’s finally here, believe the hype! 2015 will more than ever be the Christmas of ‘Smart’. Wearables, Devices, Homes, TV’s, Games consoles, we are becoming more and more connected and that’s only going to grow. The Internet of Things is here.

So how do you choose a gift for that loved one, or even for yourself? (to ask Santa for of course) that you’ll still be happy with even three or six months down the line?

Firstly, as there is such a multitude of choice in the market, I would suggest that you first think about what need will you fulfil with a smart device?

Looking at a use case is probably the best way to identify what would be the right smart present for which person. To me ‘smart’ is about a better or new way to do something you already do, something that adds value by reducing the time it takes to do mundane tasks, or does something that’s adds and entirely new dimension or value to your life.

For example, buying somebody the latest smart sports tracker, when all they do is walk to work everyday is probably not going to be a present that they’ll use for very long.

Do they have pets at home that they worry about in the day? Get them a connected camera so they can check on them, that’s something that they’ll probably use every day. Why not combine that with a smart heating? A Hive or Nest System, so as well as heating efficiencies they can get peace of mind that they can turn up the heating if it’s a cold day.

Worried about coming home late at night when its dark in your house? Get a smart light system like Philips Hue and turn it on whenever you want or set a schedule to make sure your house is well lit when you arrive home.

It’s the same process when choosing a smart supplier for your business. At Nexo, building smart technology and services for cold drinks businesses, we believe that answering the use cases for technology are the absolute driver of the value to our customers. That’s why before we build or develop anything, we identify the use case, who and how its going to be used and determine the potential value it creates.

So when it comes to choosing between us and other smart technologies it should be an easy choice for our customers. Choose something that is specifically designed to perform, driven by use cases, to add increasing value to your business over time.  Or something that is going to be put in a draw in a couple of months?

Make the ‘Smart’ choice, Happy Shopping this Christmas!