Automation is reshaping retail business models and making shopping more convenient. Driven by consumers’ demand for a hustle-free, fast and seamless shopping experience that is both cost-saving and time-efficient, intelligent vending machines are becoming the new sales channel for retailers.
Selfly Store by Stora Enso is one such company that is redefining the working of retail industry. It is an end-to-end solution for automated retail that combines the traditional retail experience with the latest developments in loT, machine learning and AI to satisfy consumer expectations. Aslak de Silva, CEO of Selfly Store, spoke with the CEOViews team to share details about their innovative business journey.
Inception and Mission
Selfly Store’s story started at the Finnish- Swedish corporate Stora Enso, one of the oldest companies in the world, with its roots in copper mining, evolving into a leading renewable materials company whose survival has mostly depended on innovation of new products as well as new business models– one of them coming to be Selfly Store.
Selfly Store was started in 2016 by two employees at Stora Enso who set out to create RFID (radio frequency identification) tags from renewable, paper-based, materials instead of the conventional plastics.
Selfly Store provides its customers with award winning intelligent vending solutions.
In 2017 they also discovered that the paper-based RFID tags could be used to fulfil a growing customer need for additional sales channels, which could be operated remotely for 24/7 without the need for staffs.
Consequently, a novel type of vending machine was invented, which would carry almost any type of product and identify them with RFID tags. In addition to the hardware, a cloud solution was developed to provide the merchant with real-time data of items in the cabinet as well as analytics to guide sales and operations decisions. Today, Selfly Store is present in 21 European countries and is completely changing the game of grab-and-go shopping. Selfly Store consumers can enjoy fun, convenient, and frictionless shopping experiences, while merchants can leverage all the benefits of being able to operate data-driven micro stores remotely.
For Selfly Store, the journey has been about diversifying the business goal to foster new ways of innovation.
They started out in the renewable RFID tag business, which was later divested. Selfly Store as an independent brand and legal entity was established in 2021 which provide their customers with renewable RFID tags through their partner network, while focusing on the core business, developing the hardware and software to meet the consumer and merchant needs.
Aslak de Silva said, “Our journey has not followed a straight path, and we have learnt a lot along the ride. We do believe in a growth mindset, where failing and making mistakes is not only allowed, but also encouraged, and failing fast is even better. This way we can quickly learn what works and what provide our customers value.”
Unique Shopping Experience
Selfly Store provides its customers with award winning intelligent vending solutions. Their aim is to provide the most convenient, fun, and data-driven grab-and-go shopping experience on the market by combining the best of brick-and-mortar with e-commerce.
The Selfly Store cabinets provide opportunities of physical micro markets where basically any item can be stored. But with real-time data, analytics dashboards, and soon AI functionality to automate and optimize sales and operations, as well as discounting and promotion engine, their merchants at the same time can utilise the capabilities mostly known from the e-commerce world.
Consumers are provided with unique experiences like: Convenient, fun, and frictionless buying
The sleek cabinet design and inviting cabinet screen makes shopping fun and effortless. Consumers use contactless payment methods, can select several products in one go, and are able to touch and feel every product before selecting.
Unique multi-temp technology
They offer three versions, Selfly Ambient, Selfly Fridge and Selfly Freezer to suit all products. Moreover, the cabinets ensure even temperatures from bottom to top shelves, so consumers receive top-quality products.
Built for purpose and with highest quality
Their products are developed and manufactured in Finland. Every detail of the product is engineered from scratch for RFID technology, leading to superior item level detection and reliability for both merchant and consumer.
Flexible product selection
Items of nearly every size, shape, durability and material can be sold. Moreover, the assortment can be changed at any time, with minimal effort, to boost sales and delight custom- ers.
Accelerating sales and reducing food waste
For merchants, Selfly Store solutions help accelerate sales and eliminate food waste:
Sales optimisation and advertising
All Selfly Store intelligent cabinets are connected to the Selfly Cloud, which provides real-time data on item level. Product selection, stock-levels, prices, locations, sales and replenishment can be optimised remotely through analytics. Advertising can be done directly on the screen of the cabinets manually or by automated triggers such as lunch hour bundle promotions, happy hour discounts, or closing expiry date, just to name a few.
Food waste reduction
Selfly Store offers a unique expiry date tracking feature for fresh food items. Through the Selfly Cloud, automatic discounting rules can be set to eliminate the risk of food waste.
Powerful discounting engine
In addition to expiry date tracking and mark-downs, there is a variety of other discounting options. Examples include bundle discounts (combining several items at a favourable price) and scheduled discounts (valid for certain time periods).
Latest software updates and value adding apps
Merchants always get the latest software updates and new feature releases to their Selfly Store intelligent cabinets. Moreover, the Selfly Cloud has an API enabling merchants to integrate value-adding apps and services including loyalty programs, menu overview, and special offers for consumers.
Retailers are experiencing new challenges due to shift in consumer behaviours. Consumers want to be entertained when shopping, and ease and convenience is essential for a great consumer experience. Many consumers prefer self-service shopping because of time savings, shorter ques, and they can shop at their own pace. Besides, contemporary consumers are changing their food consumption patterns and are looking for healthier options and fresh food, meanwhile, food service retailers are struggling with food waste which contributes up to 10% of the world’s greenhouse emissions every year. On top of this, many business owners are suffering from labour shortages while expectations on service availability, preferably 24/7 coverage, is increasing.
Intelligent grab-and-go shopping, or intelligent vending will be a given accelerator to meet consumer and merchant expectations and demands. Selfly Store is well positioned to lead the transformation of merchant’s being able to provide consumers with data-driven, fun, and convenient shopping experiences.
Selfly Store envision a future where people’s needs are predicted in advance, enabling them to ‘selfly’ preferred goods at the right time and place, with zero waiting time and food waste. Strategically placed Selfly Store cabinets in hotels, restaurants, workplaces, public spaces (car charging stations, gyms, airports, hospitals etc.) will make shopping convenient, time efficient, and more easily available than other alternatives to disrupt the disruptors (Uber Eats, Foodora, Wolt, Deliveroo). By 2023, the Selfly Store solution will also include predictive analytics with AI and Machine Learning algorithms to advice merchants in their business decisions.
Selfly Store has already crafted a framework for customer experience, along with values and desired behaviours and have accelerated the trends of intelligent vending, to help bridge gaps and leverage opportunities in other industries.