Bart Jaspers, CEO, Connected MoleculesBart Jaspers, CEO
As much of our lives are shifting online with each passing day, it goes without saying that digitization has become a part of everything. Literally every industry is increasingly adopting digital means to transform their modus operandi, while coalescing connectivity and convenience to deliver an all the more enhanced customer experience. So, it is quite expected that the retail sector would also not be lagging. Over the years, many retailers have rapidly incorporated a variety of technological applications. One of the increasingly used technologies is the adoption of self-service machines. Especially when it comes to on-the-go retail shops, they have been using an ever-increasing fleet of self-service kiosks as an optional channel for customer service. But driving a wide variety of self-service machines is too cumbersome and has proved to be sensitive to errors, which inevitably calls for convenient control. By acquiring control over the devices, a retail shop can convert the consumer insights generated by the machine into an agile part and parcel of the business by unbolting significant opportunities, both commercial and operational, for the benefit of consumers as well as companies.

Responding to this compelling need to facilitate control over self-service machines, Heemstede based Connected Molecules is proving how connecting a vending & coffee machine to the internet is not visionary thinking anymore. Today, one can easily access every one of their venues' devices to drive better business outcomes. "We help retail on-the-go shops gain convenient control over their self-service machinery to unlock the potential of those smartly connected devices," states Bart Jaspers, CEO of Connected Molecules.

With four unique solutions on their anvil, Connected Molecules harps on the synergy of all the four to connect machines to payment gateway; add future-proof payment methods; manage and operate those self-service machines through a remote portal; and also generate actionable revenue reports and instant notifications on machine behavior. Houdini gateway, an in-house payment gateway built by Connected Molecules, can connect to various machines with the help of fallback mechanisms and mesh technology that enables multiple devices to operate harmoniously.

Then comes Buzzy, the embedded software that runs on the gateway. "Using buzzy, we communicate to every individual peripheral or machine in their own bespoke language and then synchronize all different languages into one---with an objective to let different machines communicate together efficiently," explains Jaspers.

We help retail on-the-go shops gain convenient control over their self-service machinery to unlock the potential of those smartly connected devices

The third solution on the plate, Gemini, is a robust API used to create digital twins of physical objects. Be it a printer, a coffee machine, or a car wash device, if connected to a Gateway with Buzzy on it, then every event or every transaction on the machine gets directly published on the API. Based on that, Connected Molecules can also send commands to the vending machines to dispense a cup of coffee, eject a coin, or to print an invoice, among many other options. Finally, to top it all, Connected Molecules also boasts of a web portal named Alchemy, designed to let customers have let real-time communication with the devices within that network.

What's more, their long line of impeccable solutions does not really end here. The company makes sure every payment data is reconciled into their back-end ERP systems. This way, the retail shops get an idea about the quantity of coffee sold on a single day, or even how many customers bought the product and also used the loyalty system? Based on these value-added services, a customer can set dynamic pricing based on weather. For instance, if it's cold outside, the on-the-go coffee shop can make their coffee a bit more expensive or a bit cheaper if there's heavy traffic.

"By combining weather data, proximity data and a machine usage data into an algorithm, we let on-the- go shops determine discount eligibility for their customers and thereby, increase footfall to these locations and grow their revenue," extols Jaspers. Furthermore, being a retrofit-compatible solution provider, the company is also helping numerous retail outlets integrate the latest technologies into their legacy self-service machines to allow all payment modes. Even if the device is 20 years old and can only communicate through electric pulses, customers can rest assured that Connected Molecules can connect it to the internet.

According to Jaspers, the current market developments show an added emphasis on connecting self-service machines, which will fade away in a couple of years’ time as most of the devices will be bound online by then. And the aftermath of this situation is what Jaspers is building the roadmap on. Connected Molecules aims to offer aggregated analytical reports from compounded self-service machine events to equip retailers them with more incisive information on their machine behaviour. "We can compare the quality of operation between two different coffee machines, and determine servicing requirements or labour involvement--all to lower the operational expense for retailers," mentions Jaspers. "I believe once all the events across different machines become well connected, we can then unlock the full potential of what we call 'the information creation era ', and give rise to further actionable business insights," concludes Jaspers.