Byte Technology added dynamic pricing to its smart fridges this week, giving its clients the ability change prices of stocked items on the fly.
Through a combination of RFID and IoT, Byte makes smart vending refrigerators that allow shoppers to swipe their credit card, take what they want from that fridge and get charged automatically. The company licenses its technology platform to retail operations like supermarkets or restaurants, which brand the fridge to sell their packaged food (or anything really).
Because of the RFID tags and connectivity, a Byte fridge knows exactly what’s in its inventory as well as what items sold, when and to whom. With the addition of dynamic pricing, Byte fridge operators can now automatically discount items for just about any reason.
For example, if a fridge is stocked with fresh sandwiches, the operator can create a 25 percent discount on any of them set to expire. Because the fridge already knows everything about its inventory, it automatically knows which sandwiches this discount would apply to, so the operator doesn’t have to set a specific date or create a new rule each time. It could also run promotions on particular drinks, such as half-off carrot juice after 5p.m. on weekdays, or broader discounts like discounts on cobb salads every Monday.
By giving operators the ability to offer dynamic pricing, Byte hopes to reduce the amount of spoilage and food waste created through its platform. This type of dynamic pricing already exists in grocery stores through solutions like Wasteless, which algorithmically discounts food price based on factors like expiration date. And the Karma app teamed up with Electrolux to create special fridges in grocery stores that sell almost expired food for at least half off.
As I wrote about in my recent The Great Vending Reinvention: The Spoon’s Smart Vending Machine Market Report, the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing retailers to examine new, contactless ways of selling. Vending services like Byte’s offer the ability to sell products without human-to-human interaction. And though the pandemic has shut down offices, which were a main line of business for Byte’s machines, Byte Founde, Lee Mokri told me by phone this week that it is seeing increased interest from places like residential buildings.
Come to think of it though, having a smart vending machine in the lobby of an apartment building that can automatically discount a pint of ice after midnight might not be the greatest thing in the world.