New RFID-based Coca-Cola Dispenser

rfid coca-colaRecently, Coca-Cola announced the summer release of a self-serve drink dispenser that is able to pour over 100 varieties of sodas, juices, teas, and flavored waters. The Freestyle drink dispenser will allow customers to choose their favorite beverage and add a variety of different flavors to it. While this may seem like a neat gimmick, it’s actually a revolutionary business decision.

By using the Freestyle drink dispenser, Coca-Cola will be able to collect value piece of data on consumer habits. Since each flavor cartridge is tagged with an RFID chip, and each dispenser contains an RFID reader, the dispenser is able to collect data on what customers are drinking and how much. Eventually, this data is sent over a wireless network to Coke’s SAP data warehouse system in Atlanta, GA. From there, the data will be analyzed in order to develop reports that assess how new drinks are thriving in the marketplace, and divide up results by regional tastes, ultimately helping fast-food places decide which drinks to serve. Rather than releasing a new soda with a few market studies, Coca-Cola will now be able to reach a much broader spectrum of people and model their flavors after what consumers choose.

In addition to developing new flavors, the new Freestyle Coke machines will allow fast-food customers keep a more accurate inventory of their beverages. Restaurants will be able to see a graphical view of drink consumption reports, ranking which drinks sold at specific time periods, through an e-business portal. Since most fast-food restaurants collect POS data only on the number and sizes of beverage cups sold, the Coca-Cola Freestyle machine ill allow visibility on data that has not previously been collected. Since all the cartridge information is all stored on a network, it will be easy to recall a flavor because the network will instantly disable the dispensers simultaneously across the nation.

By the end of the summer, Coke anticipates that there will be 60 dispensers located throughout the Atlanta, Salt Lake City, and Orange County, CA regions, of the US with more to come after that. It will be interesting to see if other popular beverage companies will follow suit and implement RFID technology.