For Amazon, Coca-Cola, Technology Moves To The Cloud As COVID-19 Forces Change

COVID-19 continues to force companies, from retailers to restaurants, to rethink contactless everything. And companies have begun to use mobile phones to transition the experience. Is there performance data behind the change?

Take Coca-Cola, for example. Its Freestyle division worked with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to collaborate on a technology that enables users to operate the machines with their smartphones.

With nearly 80 of its U.S. beverage dispensers inside restaurants, Coca-Cola needed to find a new way for foodservice partners to provide consumers with the company’s beverages.

The Coca-Cola Freestyle machine -- which is available in 17 countries and has been around since 2009 -- was designed using a touchscreen.

It features more than 200 Coca-Cola beverage options. Users can select from mixtures of flavors of Coca-Cola products, such as Strawberry Sprite combined with Fuze Tea, which are then individually dispensed.

Wendy's, Firehouse Subs, and Five Guys participated in early pilots, Daisy Teoh, director of innovation at Coca-Cola Freestyle, wrote in a blog post.



It’s no longer acceptable for consumers to touch the screen each time they want to dispense a beverage. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the two companies went to work to develop, test, and deploy software code to the machines.

Developers did it while working at home. They had a concept complete within 100 days. AWS co-designed the architecture that helped create the change.

Coca-Cola Freestyle calls it the "mobile pour" solution. There’s no app to download or account to sign into. A consumer scans the machine’s QR code to bring the Freestyle user interface to their phone screen. It’s designed to be intuitive, and it all runs on Amazon’s cloud.

More than 30,000 machines have the touchless capability and by the end of 2020, all Freestyle machines in the U.S. will be touchless. Worldwide deployment is expected to follow.

Amazon doesn’t mention a way to collect data based on the user’s mobile device, but even knowing how many consumers used the contactless dispenser via a mobile phone could tell brands the number of people who are proficient in this type of technology using a mobile phone.  

Perhaps payment systems will come next.

Mobile payment adoption has been slow, but eMarketer on Tuesday released data estimating there will be 59.3 million proximity mobile payment users in Western Europe this year, up 18.7% from a year prior.

The firm expects growth through 2023, when 70.6 million people in the region will have made at least one proximity mobile payment transaction in the past six months.

Proximity mobile payment transactions in the United States are expected to climb by 2023, according to Statista. As of 2018, about 25.3% of smartphone users in the United States were using proximity mobile payment services. PayPal, Google Wallet and Apple Pay are among the most popular.

This year, Statista estimates proximity mobile payment transaction value in the United States will reach 130.36 billion -- up from 98.88 billion in 2019. That number is expected to reach $161.41 in 2021.

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