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Monday, October 25, 2021

‘Smart tea’: technology powers Pune company’s contactless beverage vending machines

Cherise, which belongs to the house of tea manufacturer MK Jokai, has deployed more than 350 vending machines in six cities, usually in hospitals and factories, and reported a turnover of Rs 6.17 crore in its first financial year.

Written by Dipanita Nath | Pune |
Updated: September 29, 2021 10:22:26 am
Representational image via Cherise website.

Pune-based company Cherise India Pvt Ltd has created a next-generation vending machine that is powered by IoT (internet of things), has built-in GPS, mobile app-based control, and cellular and Wi-Fi connectivity. You can get your cuppa, as well as watch a film or cricket match on the machine. More than 350 machines have been deployed in six cities since April 2020.

Traditionally, the vending business has been the underdog in the Indian market. According to ResearchAndMarkets.com, however, the Indian vending machine market is expected to surge at 14.9 per cent CAGR (compound annual growth rate) from 2020 to 2026 due to a “growing retail industry and rapid urbanisation”.

Cherise, which belongs to the house of tea manufacturer MK Jokai, has deployed more than 350 vending machines in six cities, usually in hospitals and factories, and reported a turnover of Rs 6.17 crore in its first financial year. During this time, it sold 3.7 million cups of tea, coffee, soup and milk from its smart vending kiosks.

“Vending machines are popular globally and, in many parts of Europe, the cost of a coffee from a vending machine could be higher than from a counter. In India, though, one might not want a beverage from a vending machine because one fears that it might not be very hygienic. We have identified the issues related to hygiene, sanitation and convenience and made the machine contactless and safe, and added a high level of efficiency through technology,” says Parimal Shah, founder and CEO of Cherise.

For instance, while many vending machines are dark inside and attract pests, the Cherise machine, branded as Cherise Tapri, is well-lit within, with an emergency light that switches on if the machine is switched off at night.

It is telling that Cherise witnessed a surge in sales from August 2020, as people were becoming more aware of hygiene and health following the first wave of Covid-19. The company deployed the machines fast, largely in the manufacturing sector and in hospitals. To get a cuppa, users have to scan a QR code on the machine, and the entire menu appears on their mobile phones within a second.

Cherise is an effort to come in the B2C segment. “We want to serve tea, coffee and other beverages to the end consumer. We want to enjoy the benefits of a cafe without the overheads of a cafe. Every vending kiosk is like a small tea shop, you can have different types of tea, coffees, water and so on,” says Shah, whose father Kalpesh Shah is the owner and chairman of MK Jokai Group.

Every component of the machine is manufactured in-house. “We have created our own technology, not just in software but also in hardware. Even the processors are branded Cherise. Our engineers have done the construction and architecture of the machine from scratch,” adds Shah, saying a miniature vending machine for personal use is coming up.

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