AI-run fruit-vending machines are offering Chinese consumers a new way of buying fruit and vegetables, according to FreshPlaza.
The machines, developed two years ago by Beijing Kuo’an Science and Technology, are providing an alternative channel for residents of China’s tier-one and tier-two cities, who traditionally rely on relatively distant large-scale supermarkets and community stores for fruit purchases.
“Every unit of AI fruit vending machines has 24 smaller sections with different types of fruit or vegetables,” said Beijing Kuo’an Science and Technology chairman Guan Luanjun. “Every section has a built-in set of scales. When customers select their fruit, they can use WeChat or AliPay to scan the QR-code on the Chinese fruit-vending machines to open the relevant section. The section automatically slides out to present the customer with its content. The customer can select and take their fruit or vegetables, and then the section automatically calculates the weight that was removed. The customer can then pay for their fruit or vegetables with WeChat or Alipay.”
The vending machines feature cameras on both sides, allowing them to monitor customers who operate them, minimising abuse of the service. In addition, WeChat and Alipay provide payment methods that both vendor and customer trust.
“The main advantage of Convenient E-Fresh machines over traditional, large-scale supermarkets and community stores is the low cost,” said Guan, who adds that the model allows vendors to source fruit at low cost from wholesale markets. “In addition, our automated vending machines only occupy a small area, which means that we save on rent and labour cost in comparison with large-scale supermarkets and community stores that occupy large terrains and employ large numbers of people.”
The firm currently operates 50 AI Chinese fruit-vending machines in Suzhou, and intends to expand operations across the entire Yangzi River Delta area within two years.
“We hope to improve consumer knowledge and consumer recognition of the Convenient E-Fresh brand,” adds Guan. “And we plan to scale our operations within two years with AI vending machine units in 500–1000 districts. Furthermore, we are in negotiations with a number of domestic and overseas suppliers to make sure consumers have a broad choice of beautiful and delicious fruits for low prices. We sincerely hope that our efforts help to improve the entire supply chain.”