This is no ordinary Coke machine — it’s an experiment in innovation. In this case, a Valentine’s Day promotion: If a couple showed their affection in front of a machine, they got free drinks dispensed to them. In South Korea, a
Innovations at Every LevelToday, innovation is a major concern in all areas of life as we learn how to make the most of new technology. Such clever and striking cases as the romantic, robotic machine charm and intrigue us. But they make up only a small portion of
“Coca-Cola is applying innovation to every aspect of its business,” he says. “At
Innovation in sales, distribution and merchandising at
Behind-the-Scenes AdvancementsThe romantic Coke machine is attention-getting, but Boyle points out that many major innovations are not visible to shoppers. One example is the global program called RED.
RED stands for Right Execution Daily, which is a process that helps with the critical task of monitoring the mix of products on store shelves all over the planet. Keeping drinks available for shoppers means, for example, tracking how many 1-liter containers of Diet Coke are on store shelves compared to the number of 12-oz. cans. Nothing is more critical to managing supply and building sales than staying on top of what is happening in each store — and now there are new ways to do that.
“The headline of the RED story is that managers can see how well ‘the picture of success’ is being executed every day," Boyle explains. "You check on it and audit it at the store level. Where it isn’t in compliance there is a plan to fix it. And, you can continue to improve it.” RED Image Recognition is an innovation for RED which simply takes a picture to track this picture of success.
In the past, Boyle explains, “We would walk into a store with a handheld computer and painstakingly check the shelves. Today, we take a picture of the drinks on the shelf, which is sent to a server where it gets evaluated, essentially, by artificial-intelligence technology.” The inventory assessment that comes from the photo-recognition technology comes back to personnel at retail to make changes. “It improves accuracy, reduces the time in the store and saves money. Before RED Image Recognition, the process could cost $10 to $100 per store. Now it's $1."
This gets to a key factor of innovation in a company such as
Another example of innovation in sales, distribution and merchandising is augmented reality for placing coolers. In tourist areas of Spain, drink machines are installed for the high season and removed when the cold weather comes.
“When you are in tourist zones that are wildly popular in summer but not in winter, you don't need to keep a cooler there year-round,” says Boyle. So every spring, decisions are made about where to place coolers for the high season.
“It inspires the store owner, takes out some of the guesswork, and enables choosing locations for coolers more quickly,” explains Boyle.
Creating Better Experiences for ShoppersJust as with the fun
Scanning a can for music and more. A project in the UK, for example, involves a partnership with Blippar, an augmented reality app for mobile phones. When
Bringing fan photos to the FIFA World Cup. Another innovation tied to new technology was introduced during the FIFA World Cup. It involved a relationship with Walgreens, a major drugstore chain. The company created special codes, so that when you bought a
These are just a sampling of ways Coke is innovating in sales, distribution and merchandising. Of course, such moments have marketing value but they also represent innovation at its most human and most emotional. Innovations grow out of our relationship with the newest technology, but at best they touch the oldest magic.
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