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Thousands of years of history and culture contained in a cuppa – the story of tea is something most of us are familiar with. Today, the beverage with which millions around the world start their day is, like almost everything else, getting a touch of technology. Smart machines that use ultrasonic waves and radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags to brew the perfect cup of tea are in the works and could soon become de riguer.
“Chai drinking is a ritual in India and our vision is to be a part of this ritual for smart citizens,” says Amuleek Singh, CEO and founder of Chai Point.
Blend of tradition and technology
Chai Point first began operations in in 2010 through retail outlets, primarily in tech parks, which housed their target audience. “We realised that we need to provide quality and consistency, along with convenience and accessibility, to remain relevant. Our omni-channel business is powered by technology, which is used to efficiently manage our supply chain, as well as our customer experience,” says Amuleek.
He explains how they do this. Their proprietary Shark point of sale (PoS) system helps them manage everything – from placing orders, collecting payments, capturing customer information, and managing the supply chain to collecting actionable insights and viewing reports. Shark also acts as a platform to capture customer information, such as their spending capacity, and create individual strategies for each customer.
In 2016, ChaiPoint also launched IoT-enabled business called boxC.in. Under this, the tea and coffee dispensers from Chai Point are equipped with smart devices, which are connected to the Cloud. These devices capture signals from the vending machines and send real- time data to the Cloud which, in turn, is directed to the clients through a customer relationship management (CRM) dashboard, all powered by the Shark platform.
“Using this data, we also suggest optimum brewing and flushing cycles, thus ensuring that the quality of beverages is maintained consistently,” says Amuleek.
Another proprietary technology is a machine learning engine, Shark ML, which predicts demand at retail stores as well as in the boxC.in business. This helps in inventory planning and management and helps them predict and prevent loss of revenue. “The biggest problem that the food and beverage industry faces today is repair and maintenance, which hampers customer experience and causes revenue loss. We want to eliminate this problem even before it occurs,” he adds.
Over-stocking and pilferage are other problems that are prevalent in their line of work. To remedy this, the boxC machines are equipped with an app through which facility managers can order raw materials from Chai Point as and when needed. “We analyse all data points captured and give our clients insights into whether they are consuming the correct amount of raw materials,” he says.
The future of the beverages market
Amuleek attributes a 50 percent year on year growth to their intensive technology-based practices. “With machine learning powering our supply chain, we have been able to reduce wastage by half and increase our revenue,” he says.
In fact, he goes as far as to say that technologies such as boxC.in are the future of beverage dispensing, which will take up a big chunk of the Rs 1 lakh crore plus market.
“Technology is no longer an add-on, or fancy feature above the core offering; rather it is an enabler to smoothly deliver the core offering to the customer. At Chai Point, we weave all this into a single offering and provide a seamless experience. We can confidently say that chai won’t be the same without technology powering it,” he signs off.
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