Selfly Store: The Future is ‘Waste Not, Want Not.’

Selfly Store have an expiry date management system that’s leading the way in the fight against food waste in unattended retail. Planet Vending Editor Ian Reynolds-Young found out more…


Aslak de Silva, CEO Selfly Store

As the Editor of Planet Vending for the past 13 years, I’ve been in the privileged position of observing innovations in the industry as they happened. Thanks to PV’s inclusion on suppliers’ mailing lists, we have countless press releases in our archive and we’ve turned thousands of them into articles that have been widely read by key industry figures. Together, they are a unique record of the recent history of vending.

And yet, amidst all the ‘noise’, there’s one development that stands out for me, and that’s the emergence of micro-markets.

In May 2014 at Hotelympia, the 365 SmartShop MicroMarket made its debut. At the time, we wrote: ‘Micro Markets are apparently ‘a growing phenomenon in the United States where they are rapidly revolutionising workplace catering’.’ The use of the word ‘apparently’ makes me smile, looking back. The implication was that the concept might not go down so well with us Brits. Oops…

In the intervening years we’ve worked very closely with some of the world’s leading providers of micro markets and we’ve charted improvements in security, temperature control, media exploitation; meal deals and loyalty schemes; payment options, telemetry and so on. We’ve seen the potential for unattended retail solutions to expand to embrace smaller sites – you no longer need thousands of bodies on location to make the solution feasible.

The rate of progress has been stunning and rather than showing signs of slowing down, innovation is accelerating and new players are emerging; many of whom are offering solutions to the new issues that are incumbent in the new age…..

Your micro market may be working well, its technology robust, its popularity evident by the rate of sales; its cost-effectiveness proven. What could possibly go wrong? Let me share a quick story with you. When I was thirteen, I went on a school holiday to Bavaria. We travelled non-stop for two days, in a coach with two drivers who took it in turns to kip on the back seat. (You can only imagine the smell). In the small hours, we pulled into a Dutch service area. The café was closed, but there were a couple of vending machines (stationed next to the loos) and I bought a Snickers, because it looked like a Marathon. I was starved. I ripped off the wrapper and saw that Snickers was quite like Marathon, with the notable exception that this foreign version of a great British bar was green. And slightly furry. It came up as quickly as it went down and it put me off vending machines for years. I was always afraid that the stock would be out of date.

Back to micro-markets. One of the major benefits of smart fridges and the like is that they allow the operator to offer for sale far more items than could ever be the case when vending machines were the only option. Another major benefit is the promise of ‘fresh’ food for sale. So, bearing in mind that the installation is ‘unattended’, how on Earth do you keep track of sell-by dates so that misadventures like mine in The Netherlands don’t happen?

All of which is as good a way as any to introduce you to a company called Selfly Store. Based in Finland, Selfly Store has entered the UK market and is now offering expiry date management for food waste control. Before we get into that, here’s a little of the back story. Selfly Store provides complete and easy-to-set-up smart vending machine solutions to enable operators to meet the needs of consumers through easy and convenient grab-n-go shopping. The company’s smart vending machines, Selfly Stores, are powered by RFID technology and connected to the Selfly Cloud, which allows operators to remotely operate their Selfly Stores with access to real-time data. At the time of writing, Selfly Stores are used by more than 100 businesses in 21 countries across Europe. The company’s biggest markets are France, Switzerland, Germany, Finland, and Sweden.

One fact I unearthed made me squirm: despite the fact that a variety of measures are already in place to reduce food waste, the UK produces the highest amount in Europe. The UK throws away around 9.5 million tonnes of food waste in a single year – even though 8.4 million people in the UK are in food poverty.* And it’s not just the UK: there’s no escaping the fact that food waste is a global Big Issue.

When a business commits to achieving minimum environmental impact and operating in a sustainable fashion, the amount of uneaten food it disposes of will soon be taken into consideration – if it isn’t already. Socially aware businesses in this country will, you’d imagine, be eager to add another green feather to their caps.

A recent case history features Selfly Store’s work with Östersund’s Hospital in the Jämtland Härjedalen region of Sweden. The brief was to enhance the convenience and accessibility of food for staff, patients and visitors. At the centre of the installation are Selfly Store’s smart fridges, Selfly Fridges.

It makes compelling reading. Initially with six Selfly Fridges, the project expanded to twelve units after a successful six-month trial, in which over 1,367 unique consumers were attracted, resulting in more than 6,000 transactions.

The thoughtful placement of the fridges was designed to ensure optimal service, with locations in the Café, Central Surgical Unit, Café Nyfiket, and the Medical Centre. The set-up allows for promotional initiatives. For instance, the hospital runs a weekly loyalty event, ‘Surgical Unit Friday Breakfast’. They also have a ‘Save the Planet’ fridge, which offers items nearing expiry at a discounted price. In total, Östersund’s Hospital has been able to reduce food waste by between 60-70%. It’s not chicken feed, is it?

Perhaps the best way of reducing waste is to avoid offering products that are not universally popular. Selfly Store has got this covered too: based on data the system generated, the product offer was refined to cater to the specific needs and preferences of the hospital community. There was also a social impact as the fridges have proved to be people magnets, enhancing and broadening community engagement.

Older generations used to live by the mantra ‘waste not want not’. The language may be dated these days, but the sentiment applies as much in our age as it ever did. With 1.3 billion tons of food going to waste every year, the tools to limit food waste must also evolve and in our sector, the Selfly Store expiry date management system is leading the way.


Need to find out more about who’s who in vending and automated retail? Go to Planet Vending



About the author

The Editor

Planet Vending’s Editor is Ian Reynolds-Young and it’s Ian’s unique writing talent that has made PV what it is today – the best read (red) vending blog in the world, and vending’s best read (reed). Ian ‘tripped and fell into vending’, in the capacity of PR executive, before launching a specialist agency, ‘reynoldscopy’, dedicated to the UK Vending business. The company continues to represent the interests of many of the sector’s leading brands.

‘It’s all about telling stories’, he says. ‘We want to make every visit to PV a rewarding experience. By celebrating the achievements of the UK’s operating companies, we’re on a mission to debunk the idea that vending is retailing’s poor relation.’

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