Scan the headlines or turn on the news, chances are you’ll hear about the different ways technology is disrupting retail. From companies that provide personalized vitamins tailored to your DNA, to stores like AmazonGo that provide cashier less grab-and-go shopping, to apps that learn your habits and provide recommendations for how to live a healthier lifestyle –personalization, frictionless shopping, and artificial intelligence (AI) arerapidly changing how people shop as well astheir expectations.
A 2018 YouGov report found 26% of consumers have purchased a personalized product. While, a 2017 survey found 80% are more likely to purchase from a brand that offers personalized experiences.Purchases at frictionless payment stores like Amazon Go could grow to more than $45 billion by 2023.Meanwhile, the International Data Corporation (IDC) predicts that by this year, 40% of purchases will be through AI assistance.
For companies like PepsiCo, remaining competitive means adapting to this new reality.
Currently, I lead thePepsiCo Foodservice innovation team, which focuses on how we can create new products and equipment to better serve consumer needs and address customer problems.We’ve been giving a lot of thought to what all this this means aspeople increasingly seek on-the-go food and beverage options through channels likevending and micromarkets. The question we’re trying to answer is, how can we better adapt to today’s modern lifestyle bycreating a suite of options that provide consumers withconvenient, personalized foods and beverages? And how can we make these options available where and when they need them to make their lives even easier and better?
We already have a few platforms deployed that canserve as the foundation for anecosystem designed to do just that. For example, about a year ago we began testing snackbot, a mobile-enabled, autonomous delivery robot, at the University of the Pacific. It delivers healthier drinks and snacks on demand to studentsat more than 50 locations on campus and is informing our plans for a more modular and autonomous vending model that can help meet the needs of today’s on-the-go consumers.
Another example we have in pilot is our new hydration platform, a connected ecosystem designed to meet the personalized hydration needs of today’s consumers while reducing single use plastics.Made up of a beautifully-designed water dispenser, a smartphone app, and a uniquely-identifiable reusable bottle – it offers more than 100 combinations of flavor, fizz, and temperature.
The platform also allows people to record their favorites, set and measure progress against hydration goals, and calculate how many plastic bottles they’ve saved.
In addition, we’re working on different cashless grab-and-go vending options that recognize what products a consumer selects and automatically charges them.
Since consumers are already connecting to these offerings through different apps, the real game changer will be integrating all these platforms into one seamless consumer experience. Leveraging big data and artificial intelligence, we’ll be able to track what a consumer is eating across platforms and make recommendations for how to meet their individual health goals, provide coupons for new products they also might like, and offer rewards as they shop across our various touch points. With each engagement, consumers will develop a deeper relationship with our brandsas wehelp bridge the gap between their digital and physical worlds.
It’s still early days in this technological journey, but if the Foodservice industry is able to keep up, it will create enormous opportunities as we learn more about our consumers and are able to create additional consumption occasions. The question for you is, are you ready for it?