Coke reinvents freestyle machine to save multimillion dollar beverage business

Coca-Cola, the global beverage giant, has reinvented the user experiences of its highly profitable fountain soft drinks business by developing innovative solution to stave off possible extinction.

Coca-Cola Freestyle machine is a touch screen soft drink fountain introduced by the beverage company in 2009 to allow users to select and dispense, by contact with the machines, from mixtures of over 160 flavors of Coca-Cola branded products.

With coronavirus, touching surfaces became one of the easy ways to spread the deadly disease thereby threatening the Coca-Cola business. There have been widespread fears that the pandemic would easily be spread through personal contact in dispensing the soft drink from the machines.

These machines are found in big shops like McDonalds, Wendy’s and corporate offices in US retail markets. People can become infected by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth.

To combat this challenge and retain that arm of business, Coca-Cola figured out an innovative way to save the highly profitable fountain soft drink business from possible extinct at the infected hands of COVID-19 by making the device completely contactless.

The global beverage giant updated the machine’s software package such that consumers will be able to hold their camera up to the machine’s display which will auto-scan a QR code. The code then connects to the cloud and brings the machine’s user interface direct to the smartphone surface. The drinker then selects from the full menu of options and hits pour.

The software upgrade for the machines, according to Coke, which will be pushed to about 10, 000 machines by year end, was aimed at ensuring that the machines owners continue to derive profit from their investments.

“All Coca-Cola beverage dispensers are safe with recommended care and cleaning,” said Coca-Cola Freestyle Vice President and General Manager Chris Hellmann in a statement. “But in these uncertain times, Coca-Cola is providing consumers a new option of a touchless fountain experience. It has been exciting to see our team continue to innovate mostly from home to meet the evolving needs of customers and consumers. Our partners are doing everything they can to maintain a safe and hygienic dining environment, and we’re doing all we can to provide options for their guests to continue to pour the beverages they want on a platform they love.”

Released in 2009, the Coke Freestyle machine in many respects revolutionised fountain soft drinks consumption by using technology to unlock almost endless drink options. Prior to COVID-19, customers simply walked up to Freestyle machines, select a drink of their choice by touching the screen and drink. As restaurants and corporate businesses open post pandemic lockdown, touching a public computer screen becomes increasingly dangerous making the fountain machines remain closed in many restaurants across the US.


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