The Co-op has partnered with Unilever to launch what is believed to be the UK’s first consumer-facing smart freezer for ice cream.
Branded ‘Walls’, the pilot machine, installed in The Co-op store at Battersea Bridge Road in London, offers a range of ice creams, including the retailer’s own Fairtrade Choc Stick, alongside Unilever-owned brands such as Magnum Vegan Stick, Walls Twister, Solero Exotic Lolly, Calippo, and Ben & Jerry’s Peace Pop.
Consumers at The Co-op are asked to confirm their payment method by simply tapping their phone on the NFC tag on the smart freezer. Both Apple Pay and Google Pay are accepted. Once confirmed, the freezer door unlocks to allow the customer to select their chosen ice cream. A combination of cameras and sensors ensures that customers are charged for only the products they have selected.
‘We continue to explore innovative ways to provide access to our products quickly, easily and more conveniently helping to delight and inspire our shoppers’, Rebecca Oliver-Mooney, Head of Category for Dairy & Frozen at The Co-op said. ‘With the summer just around the corner we are delighted to team up with Unilever to bring this smartfreezer to our store.’
The Co-op is planning to roll out more than 20 of the machines, both in selected stores and at outdoor events over the coming months.
‘We’re delighted to see the Walls Smart Vending Machine go live in The Co-op’, said Neil Mirtle, Unilever Customer Business Manager. ‘Collaborating on this project started with the goal of making ice cream more accessible for shoppers and then testing and learning at pace. We look forward to partnering with Co-op on the rollout.’
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Did You Know…
Wall’s was founded in 1786 by Richard Wall, when he opened a butcher’s stall in St James’s Market, London. In the 1900s the business was led by Richard’s grandson Thomas Wall II. Every year the company had to lay off staff in the summer as demand for its sausages, pies and meat fell, so in 1913 Thomas Wall II conceived the idea of making ice cream in the summer to avoid those lay-offs.