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Welcome to the FamilyMart

FamilyMart Taiwan capitalises on WMF’s integrated coffee solutions for its ePayment capability.

In a market as fast moving and competitive as the convenience store segment, a significant point of difference is crucial to build brand and customer loyalty. This is just what FamilyMart Taiwan has done with its digital customer experience strategy.

With coffee machine partner WMF, the Japan-originating corporation has designed an integrated self-service and ePayment concept for its busiest outlets in Taiwan. WMF says with more than 24,000 branches worldwide and 3600 locations in Taiwan, FamilyMart is an important driver of new business models, and the platform is at the cutting edge of contemporary food service concepts.

“As the market leader in the field of professional coffee machines, WMF made the first steps in field of serving digital solutions around about seven years ago,” says Raimund Matosic, Development Engineer IoT and Connectivity at GBU Professional Coffee Machines, WMF Group.

“WMF equipped its coffee machines with modems to connect to a backend system. Based on this system, WMF provides operators with information about the consumption and status of the coffee machines to its customers.

“This experience was the cornerstone for the today’s framework of digital solutions. WMF combine state-of-the-art technologies with the expertise in manufacturing professional coffee machines to set up the digital toolbox.”

Since the end of 2019, several fully automatic WMF 5000 S coffee machines have provided guests in two stores in Taipei with a diverse array of coffee beverages.

The entire purchasing process takes place digitally. The customer’s espresso or coffee of choice can be ordered via smartphone using the company’s own FamilyMart app. The order can be sent on the way to, or even right in front of the store. The app generates a unique barcode or QR code for the beverage order.

Once at the machine, a suitable cup is placed under the spout and the barcode is read off the smartphone by a scanner. A final confirmation message appears on the WMF 5000 S touch display and the beverage is freshly prepared.

Meanwhile, payment takes place in the background completely automatically. FamilyMart customers have their own accounts that they can top up with credit – a voucher for five cappuccinos, for example. When the WMF 5000 S receives the data from the scanned barcode, the system verifies whether the required credit is available and charges this amount to the account in real time via the cloud-based back-end servers. Following positive confirmation, the coffee machine is enabled, and the customer can confirm their desired beverage on the touchscreen or their device.

WMF has also implemented a new protocol to validate pre-paid vouchers/barcodes. The coffee machine is connected to a local point-of-sale terminal and additionally equipped with a directly connected QR-code/barcode scanner.

This provides an extra layer of functionality to the FamilyMart smartphone app, which WMF says already offered a “complete shopping and service experience”. This includes exclusive promotional offers, bonus point programs, an intelligent store finder, and a cashless payment system.

The addition of ePayment functionality builds on a long-term relationship between FamilyMart and WMF dating back to 2007, when a coffee supplier recommended its fully automatic machines.

For more than a decade, WMF says the convenience chain has relied on the expertise of the southern German manufacturer to help realise its coffee concepts. Since the beginning of WMF’s cooperation with FamilyMart, the WMF partner Feco Corporation is responsible for its local sales and service in Taiwan, and around 5000 WMF fully automatic coffee machines reliably serve coffee in FamilyMart stores.

FamilyMart started the planning phase for new ‘smart’ convenience stores in October 2018, and WMF engineers began to develop an interface for its WMF 5000 S coffee machines.

“The central advantages of the WMF 5000 S are the high-cup output, the simultaneous dispensing of hot water and milk, as well as the convenient user guidance during operation and cleaning or machine care,” Matosic says.

Adaption and connectivity to the external apps and programs for customers has been a focus of WMF. For FamilyMart, Matosic says the requirements were clear. Users had to be able to select their desired beverage anywhere and at any time via the FamilyMart app, so that they could pick up their order in-store in the shortest possible time without any hassle, waiting in a queue, or searching for change.

Furthermore, the aim was for promotional discounts and customer loyalty schemes to be incorporated into the machines, while the actual payment process had to be completely digital, without any further input from the customer.

“The test was done in October 2019 and FamilyMart enjoyed the efficiency of the digital coffee machines. They plan to expand with the installation of about 150 units across 2020,” Matosic says.

Since the grand opening of the new FamilyMart locations on 23 October 2019, WMF says the new self-service concept has run like clockwork.

The manufacturer says new payment systems and self-service solutions are “prominent features of the times we live in”, and nowhere is this truer than in the Asian markets. Digital applications such as Alipay and WeChat Pay in China are just two examples of the widespread use and acceptance of such systems.

“WMF has implemented a payment service in the telemetry backend for the purpose of connecting to different ePayment methods. Up to now, WeChat and AliPay for our China market, and TWINT for Switzerland have been implemented,” Matosic says.

“MobilePay for Denmark will follow, also Payconiq for the Benelux, and bluecode for Austria. WMF is in contact with some more ePayment providers with the goal to provide widespread ePayment solutions to our customers in their areas.”

Line Pay and Apple Pay are two of the systems WMF plans to incorporate in the future.

While trends of convenience, self-service, and smart technology have been growing in the coffee market for a long time, the coronavirus pandemic has made offering these services to customers more important than ever. Matosic says WMF is well equipped to help coffee-serving businesses, like FamilyMart, adapt to this new normal.

“This described solution is not the only one which WMF can provide to customers,” he says.

“WMF has set up a framework of digital solutions with the goal to always provide the accurate solution regarding the needs of the customers.”

For more information, visit www.wmf-coffeemachines.com

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