Australian robotics retail company Niska needed a kiosk development partner with experience in payment solutions, kiosk design and UX , hardware integration, and the ability to develop software to interface to a complex robotic delivery system. Added to that were the operational requirements to deliver icecream and manage queues in a self service environment. We didn't know it at the time but delivering ice creams with many thousands of possible combinations of flavours and toppings had some unique operational complexities.
The system also needed to up-sell customers with special products including water and chocolate bars.
The project required collaboration between multiple experts in different countries - robotics vendors, specialty robotics fabricators, materials experts, food technologists, health and safety specialists, and kiosk software developers here in New Zealand.
We developed software to interface with the robots, designed the UX and look and feel of the kiosk software, developed the kiosk software, and created a content management system and a POS system for the kiosk. We installed and tested the software in Melbourne, working closely with Special Patterns Robotics.
The solution required Niska to be able to add flavours, recipes and toppings, as well as promote pre-defined recipes across a network of kiosks in multiple locations. The ability to create time based promotional offers was needed for the launch and ongoing marketing campaigns. Images and featured recipes are uploaded to a cloud based .NET CMS (Umbraco CMS). We were thrilled to win one of 10 annual international Umbraco awards for this project. This implementation has been a huge success with our client as it's such a secure and easy to use browser based system they can access from anywhere.
With 16 flavours of icecream, 6 different toppings, 3 types of chocolate bar, and up to 6 types of drink, stock levels and queue management are of paramount importance. Phosphor and Melbourne company Special Patterns Robotics needed a robust way of measuring, reporting on, and updating stock levels. Consideration needed to be given to the complexities of order queueing introduced by multiple POS kiosks attached to one robotic delivery system.
Real time notifications: The system provides notifications to management and maintenance staff when stocks are below a certain point, or featured recipe ingredients are low.
Phosphor decided to use Power BI for flexible, easy to create and deliver reporting. Sales reports and flavour consumption reports can be created by the client and viewed in the content management system. Reports can specify individual kiosks, POS units, and locations, and can be used for analysis of product popularity and demand. Financial reporting can be used to verify reporting from the payment solution, which also manages refunds.
The Phosphor Kiosk Management Tool (KMT) is an integral part of all of our kiosk systems. This system monitors the kiosk health, including hardware peripherals like printers, scanners, and payment solutions, as well as the transport of usage data and transactional data and error logs. Our clients and support team can see the status of all kiosks in a well-designed, easy-to-use dashboard. Key functions for managing kiosk networks are also available, such as software updates, kiosk restarts, and downloading log files. This means that the Phosphor support team can trap and resolve problems, often before our clients realise there is an issue.
The interface presented to a customer posed some real challenges. To meet the requirements of children and people with special needs, the requirement was a for a touchscreen interface which could work in both portrait and landscape mode; the landscape mode gives easy access for children and those in wheelchairs.Although both interfaces share a similar sales flow, content and images, the designs are specific to each layout. We created two designs, and developed a single code base which can be configured to work with either layout.
The Phosphor kiosk design process has been developed over many years to take into account ease of use, speed of transaction, and the specific requirements of a high volume repeat use environment. Touchscreen interfaces need to work for first time users as well as repeat customers. This means they need to be functional and beautiful.
The payment solution provides several possible payment options: Tap'n'go, EFTPOS, and credit card. Others options include Apple Pay, Google Pay, China Pay, and others.
Vouchers and discounts: The system provides Niska Retail Robotics with the ability to create and redeem vouchers, by dollar amount and percentage discount. These can be sent to users, and presented to the kiosk by either printed and scanned vouchers or on their mobile device.
The robotic delivery system consists of multiple robotic arms by robotics vendors Kuka and ABB. The Phosphor POS system communicates with the delivery system via a complex messaging structure. This interface communicates sales, stock levels, hardware status, and also handles errors and notifications.
The Phosphor team was involved in all aspects of the hardware selection for the POS solution. This included PC's, Printers, Scanners, Payment Hardware, and communications.
Niska founders Kate Orlova and Anton Morus are optimistic about the future for the the Robotic Ice Cream Bar. Both believe in the power of automation and the benefits they say it will bring for the economy.
"We know what and why we are doing this. We saw the positive influence to the world economy and humanity can eventually get rid of routine work, delegating it to the machines and spend more time on more fulfilling occupations."
Phosphor's ability to build relationships and work together with other companies has resulted in being an integral part of the launch of Niska's pilot Robotic Ice Cream Bar in Federation Square, Melbourne. Our two POS payment kiosks are integrating with the robotic arms, the content management system is keeping track of orders and inventory and messaging the Niska team to keep them up to date, and the team is feeling in control. Now it's up to the public to enjoy this first-to-market invention. Stay tuned...
Congratulations on creating a fantastic working solution for NISKA Robotic Ice Cream Bar! NISKA team greatly appreciates the level of advice we received on how to make customer journey via touchscreen ordering process as intuitive as possible. NISKA received an outstanding comment from SoftBank representative stating: "NISKA touchscreen POS is better than in McDonalds". We believe it says it all!
Phosphor extended their support beyond programming and coding – to the high level of creativity to address this unique project needs.Kate Orlova - Niska Ltd.