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How public spaces can adapt to a post-pandemic world

Noor Anand Chawla

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With the festivities now behind us, it is time for the world to return to normal once again. And with Covid-19 numbers on the lower side, one is hopeful that this means returning to the definition of what was considered ‘normal’ in a pre-pandemic scenario. The world is definitely opening up, but are public spaces equipped to deal with this changed scenario?

Fortunately, forward-thinking minds are constantly looking for apt solutions to a problem. Daalchini Technologies is one such enterprise, which had begun manufacturing hygienic and contact-free vending machines in the year 2018. When the pandemic hit the country, they pivoted from being installed only in corporate offices to having a presence in hospitals, manufacturing and pharma companies, cabs/buses, as well as residential complexes.

“We help customers save their money and their time as Daalchini is the most cost-effective delivery option for customers, especially in smaller priced goods categories. Vending machines are not new in India, however, these cash-operated manual machines were found mainly at airports, large offices and served only the 7Cs (chocolates, chips, cookies, cakes, colas, candies, cuppa) packaged food and beverages only. We have changed this,” explains Prerna Kalra, CEO and co-founder of the brand.

Through their state-of-the-art vending machines, Daalchini Technologies provide round-the-clock snacking items. Their wide range of products allows people a chance to discover more items they are unfamiliar with, explore new and upcoming brands in every category including frozen/chilled meals, savoury items, beverages and desserts, in an instant without having to pay for delivery charges or waiting for delivery.

“Daalchini is India’s first 24/7 instant snacking destination that provides affordable, healthy snacks, home-style meals through IoT-enabled ‘phygital’ (physical+digital) vending machines and smart stores. Daalchini’s phygital vending machine/kiosk offers an array of products from café-packed savouries, bakery products to ready-to-eat and premium proprietary products along with packaged food. We employ a tech-driven, temperature-controlled supply chain that is not demand-driven but forecast-driven led by machine learning-based projection tools. Our tech suite also uses IoT retail to keep food safe and healthy while allowing us to monitor it remotely,” explains Kalra.

Through their consumer app, the customer scans the QR code to order snacks and food. There is also a separate app for retailers and smart store operators to manage their vending machines intelligently and sustainably. From electricity, internet, temperature, music, pricing, inventory, and offers – everything is managed on the app.

In case you’re wondering how a vending machine is the solution for public spaces to open and thrive in a post-pandemic world, it is because they are a completely contactless solution where customers buy through the app, scan the QR code to vend the item, use the foot-paddle stand to open the pickup pocket and collect the item, without the need of any physical contact.

Kalra highlights the plethora of options their machines offer, including the likes of only ‘Home Food’ to 6-meals-a-day plans through their suite of D2C brands and Cloud Kitchens. Some of the leading FMCG brands sold here include Amul, Britannia, Coca-Cola, Dabur, Nestle, ITC, Parle, Paper Boat, Haldiram, Jubilant Foods, etc. Healthier options include BRB, Priniti, The Healthy Company, Dole Fruits, Nutri Tatva, Kari Kari, Why Fryy, True Elements, Yoga Pulp, Postcard, etc. The company has also tied up with the country’s leading managed office spaces such as Smartworks and 91Springboard that house thousands of professionals. They have also set up contactless pantries for the offices of leading manufacturing like Aditya Birla Group’s Hindalco plant, Whirlpool, LG, HCL, to name a few.

Their vending machines are currently operational in 13 cities of India including Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Chandigarh, Ahmedabad, and Indore. Further plans to open over 2000 smart stores or locations in the coming year are in place, of which over 610 smart vending machines and over 50 vending machines have been added in the last couple of months.

Now with schools, colleges, offices, cinemas and most other public activities opening their doors, smart vending machines that require no physical contact on the part of the customer, seem a smart choice for the world to adopt. Machines have always sought to address a need and fulfil a purpose, and in the altered world we live in, these ones in particular are certainly providing an apt solution.

The writer pens lifestyle articles for various publications and her blog www.nooranandchawla.com. She can be reached on nooranand@gmail.com.

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