A Nelson company is about to have its unique technology used across Canada.
SMRT1 Technologies has signed a deal with Vancouver’s UpMeals to launch 22 smart vending machines over the next three years.
Terry Van Horn, CEO of SMRT1 Technologies, said UpMeals will use the machines to serve fresh meals at corporate offices. SMRT1 meanwhile will help the company keep track of the meals being vended, marketing data and inventory dates.
“So they can use all the smart technologies that SMRT1 has created for the vending industry and distribute their meals now to corporate clients, staff and employees,” said Van Horn.
In a statement, UpMeals CEO and co-founder Drew Munroe said the deal will help his company provide healthy food to its clients 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“Giving our partners access to a fully autonomous SmartVending solution that can be custom designed for their brand and deployed anywhere gives us an incredible platform for our wellness solutions and pushes us further to achieving our food accessibility goals,” said Munroe.
SMRT1’s vending machine tech is already in use in Nelson.
One machine, with its large touchscreen, provides information to tourists at the Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce building in Railtown. Another at ANKORS carries items like naloxone kits, syringes and sundries for people in need.
SMRT1 meanwhile also launched an investment campaign in July. The company has already raised over $316,000 of its $1 million goal.
Van Horn said the smart vending machine market in North America is wide open. In Asian markets, she said, vending machines offer a variety of products as a way of filling a gap due to a lack of real estate space for brick and mortar stores.
“So they were forced to innovate,” said Van Horn. “North America hadn’t been forced to innovate. And we’ve really attributed the vending industry to chips and chocolate bars.
“The best thing that could happen with the [COVID-19 pandemic] is, in all fairness, now that retailers are starting to think, ‘how can I get my products into the hands of the consumers in an affordable, attractive and easy, convenient way’ and now they’re looking at vending.”
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