Chinese consumers in first-and-second-tier cities have always relied on relatively distant large-scale supermarkets and community stores for fruit purchases. However, in recent years AI fruit vending machines gradually pushed the traditional retail channels aside. The AI fruit vending machines offer Chinese consumers a new way of buying fruit and vegetables. Mr. Guan Luanjun, chairman of Beijing Kuo'an Science and Technology Co., Ltd. and founder of Convenient E-Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Vending Machines, recently shared his views on the market for AI fruit vending machines and future trends in development.
"Every unit of AI fruit vending machines has 24 smaller sections with different types of fruit or vegetables. 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 vending machine that opens 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."
When asked about the reliability of AI fruit vending machines, Mr. Guan replied, "The AI vending machine units have cameras on both sides. We can monitor customers who operate the AI fruit vending machines. In addition, WeChat and Alipay provide trustworthy payment methods. We are therefore not worried about customers who abuse the AI vending machine units. However, apart from the necessary camera surveillance, we also hope to establish a bond with customers based on trust and respect. For example, a WeChat group for customers can help us carry out regular feedback," explained Mr. Guan.
"The main advantage of Convenient E-Fresh machines over traditional, large-scale supermarkets and community stores is the low cost. Take Suzhou area as an example, most community stores receive supplies from second- and third-tier wholesale markets. However, we purchase directly from Shanghai Huizhan Wholesale Market. In addition, our automated vending machines only occupy a small area, which means that we save on rent and labor cost in comparison with large-scale supermarkets and community stores that occupy large terrains and employ large numbers of people."
When asked about the variety of fruit available in AI fruit vending machines, Mr. Guan explained, "The variety of domestic fruits is smaller during the winter, so we are mostly selling imported fruits at the moment. For example, we sell Chilean cherries and Thai durian. In the summer, however, we mainly sell domestic fruits."
Beijing Kuo'an Science and Technology developed the automated fruit and vegetable vending machines two years ago to provide consumers with a more convenient retail channel. "We selected Suzhou as the model-city after many rounds of research and development, and market feedback. One of the main reasons for this decision is the fact that fruit demand in south China is much bigger than in north China. Furthermore, the income level in Suzhou is relatively high in comparison with similar cities in other parts of China. Suzhou residents also have a strong curiosity and are willing to try out new things. We currently have 50 AI vending machine units in operation in high-end districts in Suzhou. We hope to take Suzhou as a model and expand our 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. 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," said Mr. Guan.
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Mr. Guan Luanjun
Beijing Kuo'an Science and Technology Co., Ltd.