Proof & Company recently launched the world-first SmartKiosk in Singapore, starting with Dairy Farm International’s premium retail chain CS Fresh in Tanglin Mall.
The kiosk currently offers six different craft spirits, and consumers would place a reusable bottle under the spout containing their spirit of choice to have it filled up, then attach a sustainable seal and pay as usual in the supermarket.
“The idea is very much that the consumer can finish up the spirit of choice at home, then wash the bottle and bring it back to the machine to be refilled again – this bottle reuse would mean a major reduction in glass bottle wastage, and the consumers would be able to save money significantly in the long term as well,” Proof & Company South East Asia Brandon Gursd told FoodNavigator-Asia.
“The SmartKiosk uses a novel technology called Verified Sustainable Retail – this allows us a bit of a safeguard, where it ensures that selected specific bottles will only refill with the right brand of alcohol, and also records the number of times that a bottle has been back to the machine to refill in order to put some data tracking in place.”
As such, the kiosk does not allow for consumers to bring just any bottle from home to refill, but will have these special bottles available at the kiosk itself for first-time consumers to make their first purchase and then keep reusing from then on.
“We are confident that this will lead to cheaper prices than for consumers to keep purchasing the drinks in new bottles, and our initial calculations estimate this to be up to 20% in savings,” said Gursd.
“For instance one of the craft spirits we are currently offering in the SmartKiosk is Brass Lion, and as an example the brand’s Pahit Pink Gin that would normally retail for S$108(US$76.73) for a new bottle could now be refilled for about S$89(S$63.23).
“These savings are significant, and this is not to mention the positive sustainable impact that comes along with this by minimizing glass and packaging waste, and the feel good aspect that comes along with that.”
Other spirits currently available for refill sales via the SmartKiosk include Tried & True Straight Wheat Vodka, Widges Gin, Mackintosh Blended Malt Scotch Whisky, Los Arcos Destilado de Agave and several more.
Current estimated data states that the environmental benefits per refill include the elimination of an average of 550g carbon emissions and over 700g of single-use packaging, coming both from the reduction of new glass bottle usage as well as corresponding environmental activities Proof & Co has committed to such as tree-planting to accompany every refill purchased.
Although the firm’s interests are currently strongly focused in the craft spirits category, Gursd added that it is also technically feasible for this SmartKiosk technology to be expanded for use with other beverages such as beers or juices.
“This machine is definitely set to evolve even further in its technology and applications – and technically as long as the products involved are liquids, there is no reason for these not to be dispensable in this format, and we are always looking to remain agile especially in terms of alcohol,” he said.
“How things evolve will depend on the data and information we gather from this launch, where the Verified Sustainable Retail technology will very much come in handy to provide us with the trackability and traceability data needed to see patterns on what drinks and brands are the most popular with consumers when it comes to refills.”
More kiosks on the way
CS Fresh described the SmartKiosk as a ‘climate friendly and revolutionary’.technology for alcohol retail, also highlighting the lower prices of the refills as a major draw for consumers.
“All spirits featured [in the SmartKiosk] are priced at a lower cost to keep consumer favourites affordable,” said the retail chain via a formal online statement.
In addition to the first SmartKiosk location in the Tanglin Mall CS Fresh, plans are already in motion to launch these in four more locations in Singapore within 2022.
“These initial four new locations will also be CS Fresh outlets, but moving forward we will also be looking to put the SmartKiosks in other retail stores under the Dairy Farm International purview,” Gursd added.
“We opted to work closely with them on this launch as we already have a longstanding relationship with them, and Dairy Farm International has shown very strong support for the craft spirits sector in general.
“In addition, we definitely see very wide opportunities for routes to market by working with them, and their sustainable in-house practices are also very much in line with what we are trying to achieve.”
CS Fresh is considered one of Dairy Farm International’s more upscale premium retail chains. Other well-known chains under the group include Cold Storage and Giant, and it is also active in other markets such as Hong Kong and Malaysia.