We recently interviewed Shirish Surti, VP – Engineering, Chai Point on how adopting open source technology with minimum investment has given their start up a boost. He also informed, Syeda Beenish, Executive Editor – EFY, that besides open source, Chai Point also banks heavily on the trending technology- Internet of Things (IoT) to serve its customers better. Chai Point for its chai delivery chain of network has decided to bank on technologies like IoT and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Below are the excerpts of the interaction…
Q. How has IoT helped Chai Point? Any success stories of 2017 to share.
IoT is touching our lives in one way or the other. As the world starts adapting more technologies people have started becoming more data savvy. Same is applicable in the case of tea/ coffee or any beverage consumption. People need more and more data about how tea / coffee they have consumed. This is where a real time dashboard where every cup dispensed is reflected helps bring in transparency for the companies installing them.
Chai Point has boxC.in solution for office use cases. They are IoT enabled machines, which allow capturing data about every cup consumed.
boxC.in machines throw error codes to server using IoT if a fault happens in the machine. This error codes trigger a ticketing mechanism, which is assigned to our repair and maintenance team. The error codes provide first hand information about the type of error to our operations and repair teams. This enables us to provide a seamless experience to our customers as time spent in maintenance activities gets significantly reduced.
Q. ChaiPoint for consumers and for corporate – how are they different in terms of treatment and offerings?
Our insight shows that consumers prefer to order online, especially in tier 1 cities where we are currently present. Thus, we introduced an app available on both Android and iOS to cater to the upwardly mobile customers. We also receive orders on our website and through food tech partners, such as Foodpanda, swiggy, Zomato and Uber Eats. Chai Point also runs close to 100 stores in 8 cities to extend an authentic chai experience.
Our stores are often the most important and first touch point for the consumers. The different platforms – stores, app, online, loose-leaf tea, food tech collaboration and boxC.in – are components, which make us an omni channel brand in India.
Corporate professionals crave for tea/coffee to keep them energized throughout the day. On an average, a corporate worker consumes 5 – 6 cups of tea in a day. However, if you see today, the dispensing machines in most offices can only provide premix chai/coffee, which is not preferred by tea loving working professionals. Hence, they are mostly seen at chai stalls outside their offices, which also doesn’t do justice to the taste of tea.
We identified this as a big problem and addressed this gap by launching boxC.in, an IoT enabled tea/coffee dispensing machine, which uses fresh ingredients and milk to prepare a fresh and a consistent cup of your favorite beverage.
Q. How has the installation of boxC.in has helped the organisations? Please share the feedback in terms of employee productivity?
boxC.in was launched in 2016 and an android version of the same was launched last year i.e in 2017. The machine is remotely managed by Chai Point command center, which monitors the health of the machine, consumption patterns, stock status etc. Being IoT enabled, boxC.in generates reports and flags the command center in case of any issue. This innovation has helped in bringing transparency for corporates who otherwise were not able to monitor the consumption and the cost arising out of maintaining premix led dispensing machine and reduces the downtime considerably. Currently, we have more than 2,000 active boxC.in installations across India.
With boxC.in, organisations now have an option of serving fresh milk based chai and coffee in their office premises instead of premix based beverages, which are not preferred by Chai loving Indians. Employees are able to get the taste and experience of authentic beverages in the office pantries; saving them time and helping stay focused for a longer period of time.
Employers, on the other hand, now have access to superior service levels, error-free digital invoicing and transparency in consumption through constant monitoring. Employees don’t have to step out of the office premises searching their kind of Chai. They get it within the office premises, which save lot of time and energy.
Q. If you can share a bit about wallet based boxC.in machines?
boxC.in machines are internet connected, android powered dispensers far ahead of the conventional beverage dispensing options in the market. To take the customer experience higher and also contain costs for our corporate clients, we are working on a dispenser where the beverage is dispensed once customer makes the payment using digital payment methods. We are exploring PrioriTea (Chai Point’s e-wallet) as well as third party digital wallets as possible modes of payments. This project is under development and will be released to the Indian market soon.
Q. How is technology helping you to stand tall amidst the competing chain of coffee and tea counters?
To minimise the wastage and be ready to serve our customers timely, we developed a cloud based FnB (Food & Beverage) platform called Shark. With every store connected to our central Shark platform, we get the real time data. This data helps us plan for Supply Chain readiness. We do our Supply Chain predictions based on the consumption data. If we over supply it creates wastage in stores and boxC.in locations. If we under supply we lose out on sales. Thus near real time data helps reduce operating costs in inventory.
Technology helps us track sales of various products. In India people in different regions have different preferences. For example, Ginger tea is a hot selling product in Southern parts of India. While in Northern India, masala chai is a hot selling product. Thus, such data capturing helps us plan our product launches, staff allocations and regular supply to the stores in a more efficient manner.
In a nutshell, use of IoT helps us in capturing data that helps us plan our product launches, staff allocations and regular supply to boxC.in customers in a more efficient manner.
Q. Are you trying to go deep in the country? Please elaborate.
Currently, we are present in tier 1 cities like Delhi, Gurgaon, Noida, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Pune. We will be entering Chennai soon. However, we are already present there through boxC.in. We believe even in large markets like these, there is enough ground to cover and that’s what we will continue to focus on as we gear up to open 50 new stores this year in the locations we are already present.