As Honest Tea discovered last summer, people generally obey the honor system. The subsidiary of The Coca-Cola Co. conducted a social experiment in which it placed unmanned pop-up stores in select U.S. cities, offering a bottle of Honest Tea for $1. Hidden cameras found that approximately 90 percent of consumers were honest and followed the honor system.
Of course, there are always the select few who take advantage of the system when no one’s looking … or so they think. Although there won’t be any cameras around, a new vending refrigerator by ShelfX is able to detect not only the brand being purchased, but also the quantity. It also knows when a product is returned to the fridge. The Vending Fridge uses the company’s proprietary Smart Shelf to keep track of its inventory. And even the consumer purchasing process is “smart.”
Almost as magically as saying “open sesame,” consumers unlock the door to the fridge by swiping their cell phones over a digital screen located on top of the refrigerator. A quick-response code scanner allows them to purchase the refrigerated products inside.
To maintain the Vending Fridge, all owners need to do is keep it stocked. ShelfX handles account creations, payment processing and sends owners a payment each month, deducting a small percentage of sales for services rendered, it says.
Like the smartphone, it looks like the refrigerator’s joining the “smart” crowd.