Grocery News – Schnucks Adds AI Robots and Digital Storytelling For Beer and Wine Shoppers

Grocery News – Schnucks Adds AI Robots and Digital Storytelling

Couple of news items from Progressive Grocer today August 31, 2021 —

Digital Storytelling — Partnership with Looma will connect consumers to people and stories behind products — Marian Zboraj 

Digital Editor
Marian Zboraj profile picture

Marian Zboraj Digital Editor

Every bottle tells a story, and retail tech startup Looma is making sure that in-store Schnucks shoppers get the 411 before making their purchasing decisions. Looma has partnered with Schnuck Markets Inc. to bring an at-shelf digital storytelling platform to beer and wine departments at 89 Schnucks stores. Known as Loop, the program introduces shoppers to the real people who craft the products via short, human-centric videos playing on smart tablets.

According to Looma, brands see an average of 92% sales growth when featured on Loop, followed by 25% the following month. When the solution is installed on an end cap, the end cap sells 51% more product, while 30% of shoppers trying a Loop-featured product are trying it for the first time.

St. Louis-based Schnuck Markets Inc. operates more than 100 stores in four states and employs more than 13,000 associates. The company is No. 64 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.


Automat Dumplings At Dallas Restaurant

From Dallas News August 2021

Brooklyn Dumpling Shop Delivers automat dining to Dallas

Dumpling Automat

Click for full-size image — Dumpling Automat

In Brief:

  • Combination automatic self-service ordering + lockers (temp controlled)
  • Couple of kiosks + wall of lockers
  • Vimeo Video of process
  • Franchise opportunities
  • Very nice press coverage
  • Wonderful history of the automat
  • Food looks great!
  • Please come to Denver!


If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, automats were vending machine-style restaurants that served cafeteria-style food throughout the early 1900s. Fast food innovation and inflation eventually made the practice impractical. What was once a popular and modern style of dining eventually all but died off.

But as the pandemic changed our appetite for indoor, contact-heavy dining, the possibilities for a once-outdated concept reemerged. Brooklyn Dumpling Shop only debuted in New York’s East Village in May 2021, but the brand has already signed franchise deals for locations throughout New York, Florida, Texas and more.

“It’s an incomparable brand — the reimagination of the automat concept is enough to get people in the door, but the high-quality and uniqueness of the dumplings is what keeps customers coming back every time,” says Dan Rowe, CEO of Fransmart, Brooklyn Dumpling Shop’s franchise development partner.

How does it work?

Brooklyn Dumpling Shop’s contactless ordering system uses temperature-controlled food lockers to offer guests a pretty efficient contactless pickup option. First, you order ahead online or at a kiosk in real-time.

Once an order is ready, it’s inserted into one of the lockers. Customers are notified and can then scan their phones and pick up their food. Seems easy enough.

automat dumpling dallas

automat dumpling dallas

Cash Bill Payment Coming to Dollar General, Family Dollar and 7-Eleven

In-Store Cash Bill Payment News

Cash bill payment

Cash bill payment

From PaymentsDive

New angle by InComm leveraging their networks to rope in the underbanked and unbanked.  The numbers from the FDIC based on 2019 survey data details around 22 million in that under and not banked demographic.  Interesting 2021 data statistics showing countries and their rates of unbanked. Vietnam for example almost 70% unbanked.  Cash, which is declining in U.S. as transactional component, would seem to be highly used in many countries.

In Brief

  • InComm Payments and Doxo will allow customers to pay bills with cash at some 60,000 retail locations across the U.S., the companies announced Thursday.
  • Retailer network relationships include Dollar General, Family Dollar and select 7-Eleven stores.


In their announcement, Atlanta-based InComm and Seattle-based Doxo noted the prevalence of bills paid by U.S. consumers in cash. Specifically, they said about 12% of bills, or nearly 1.9 billion bills paid annually by U.S. households, are paid in cash, citing the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

The companies are creating the new cash services, often used by underbanked and unbanked U.S. consumers, at a time of national focus on extending financial services to such consumers.

Restaurant Automation – How To Use Technology with Current Challenges

restaurant no touchFrom Forbes August 2021 —  Angela Diffly  Forbes Councils Member —  Angela Diffly is co-founder of the Restaurant Technology Network.

In Brief

  • What about TikTok?
  • Conversion from in-house to off-premise
  • QR Codes
  • Drones and BOTs
  • Delivery
  • Labor


Is TikTok on your restaurant’s marketing strategy menu? If not, consider this. Ninety-year-old brand Ocean Spray landed 15 billion media impressions on TikTok in one month with zero spend after a creator featured the drink while skateboarding to work.

According to Hootsuite’s Digital 2021 Report (registration required), TikTok hit 689 million global active users as of January 2021 (100 million monthly active users in the U.S.). The vast majority of users in the U.S. are under 30. And 72% of millennial consumers frequent eating and drinking establishments on a weekly basis. This means “Genzennials” (millennials + Gen Z) have a giant chunk of wallet to share when it comes to eating out.

Let’s look at some challenges restaurants are facing today, how technology plays a role and particularly how TikTok can be used effectively.

Challenge #1: Safety

• Hello, QR Code: Many restaurants are utilizing QR codes for menus, orders and contactless payments. Imagine before (waving down a waiter to pay your check), versus after (a tap of a smartphone and you’re out the door). You can use TikTok videos to show digital menus and payments and your new contactless services. 

Check out this video of The Greens Rooftop Bar at Pier 17 in New York City, where the content creator focuses on the overall experience but flashes QR codes in storytelling. The company’s QR code system allows customers to order food and beverages, or even sunscreen or a phone charger.

• Drones And Bots: This slick El Pollo Loco video shows off its newly-announced drone delivery. There are also lots of robot delivery videos out there. Who hasn’t seen Domino’s driverless delivery powered by Nuro ad? White Castle is deploying robots in the kitchen (pretty futuristic stuff for a century-old brand!). The Miso Robotics robotic arm, known as Flippy, is being used in the kitchen fryer area, leaving drudgery to the robots and allowing staff to better serve customers.

Read complete article From Forbes August 2021

Off-Premise AI Robots Gaining Traction For Drive-Thru Automation

Drive-Thru Automation News & AI Influence

From NRN and Next Frontier August 2021 — The next part of the post-pandemic restaurant makeover? Robots

In Brief

  • Redesigns stress ease of customer experience like Panera’s geofencing technology and Taco Bell’s smartphone-operated food pickup.
  •  both KFC and Dunkin’ piloting checkout-free automated drive-thrus powered by AI in 2019.
  • Valyant is partnering with Checkers and Rally’s
  • 16–20% higher accuracy rates than Google or Amazon’s voice assistants
  • main draw of artificial intelligence in the drive-thru is solution for labor challenges
  • White Castle began testing AI-powered drive-thru with license-plate recognition in partnership with Mastercard last fall.


The next part of the post-pandemic restaurant makeover? Robots. While AI and automation are certainly nothing new to the industry (Flippy the fry cook robot debuted four years ago and Domino’s has been testing out AI capabilities for a long time), these technologies are making the leap from gimmick to gold standard as off-premises demands grow and the industry’s labor challenges continue.

AI comes to the drive-thru lane

Drive Thru Order Innovations

Drive Thru Order Innovations

With the restaurant industry labor crisis ongoing, operators are finding new ways to survive the employee slowdown, including investing in artificial intelligence. Testing of AI-powered drive-thru lanes began before the pandemic, with both KFC and Dunkin’ piloting checkout-free automated drive-thrus powered by AI in 2019.

The interest in human-free drive-thru lanes grew in earnest over the past year with McDonald’s announcing a test of automated voice order-taking at drive-thrus in June, though McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski said that there is a “big leap” in going from a test of 10 restaurants to 14,000 and that it will take more than a year for AI to become more widespread.

Rob Carpenter, founder and CEO of Denver-based Valyant AI — a technology company creating artificial intelligence solutions for drive-thru, takeout and delivery — also believes the technology is still finding its stride, but that it is improving all the time.

Valyant is partnering with Checkers and Rally’s — which will begin using its voice assistant— and there are two additional major quick-service brand partnerships in the works. Although the company’s voice assistant program for drive-thrus is still learning accents and other variables, Carpenter said tests are seeing 16–20% higher accuracy rates than Google or Amazon’s voice assistants.

Related News

Vending Kiosk News – Shopping Center Vending On the Rise

electronic lockers vending

Shopping Center Kiosks and Vending Kiosk Article

electronic lockers vendingFrom ICSC August 2021 — Vending machines now feature digital touchscreens and even biometric facial identification to make the buying experience faster.

In Brief

  • Taubman highlighted and pitching most of their strategies
  • Selling sauce, vape, skincare, drugs (Advil), cupcakes, eyelash extensions, PPE and CBD
  • Revenue from vending machine still less that specialty kiosk or pop-up


One perhaps unexpected disruptor that gained traction during the COVID-19 crisis was the rise of vending machines. Once seen as archaic dispensaries for 75-cent potato chip bags, they now may feature digital touchscreens and even biometric facial identification to make the buying experience faster. And during the pandemic, retailers began looking more seriously at vending machines as seamless, contactless ways to get their products to consumers quickly.

“All types of stores deployed vending machines during the pandemic when they had to close due to the lockdown and still wanted to make their merchandise available,” explained Elliot Maras, editor of Vending Times. “In every case I am aware of, the sales surpassed expectations and they are keeping the machines on-site post pandemic.”

Vending machines during the pandemic were selling not just prepackaged snacks and soda cans. Instead, retailers stocked products like CBD gummies, artisanal pizzas, prime cuts of meat, down jackets, swimsuits and iPad chargers. Thanks to advances in wireless technology, customers rarely find vending machines empty of the products they want, and operators adjust the products based on real-time sales. And forget paying with quarters; customers now can pay via mobile apps.

As the U.S. labor shortage continues and contactless transactions remain on the upswing — hello delta and lambda variants — some retailers consider vending machines rather than brick-and-mortar or kiosks as primary entry points into retail sales. Dude, Seriously Hot Sauce CEO Kai Schneider, for instance, had considered opening his own store but changed his mind once COVID-19 hit. “People — Dude, Seriously employees included — deserve a hassle free-experience with minimal risk to exposure, and the vending machine supplies that,” he explained.

More Context

Restaurant Growth Strategies – Scott Deviney, CEO, Chicken Salad Chick

Restaurant Growth Strategies

August 2021 NRN Link — Join Chicken Salad Chick CEO Scott Deviney for an interactive Q&A session on how restaurant growth strategies are evolving and what factors make for a successful store opening in 2021 and beyond. Coming off years of steady expansion, Chicken Salad Chick is looking to maintain its growth trajectory as it sets its sights on having 500 locations by 2025. Deviney shares how the brand is pursuing new markets to hit its ambitious growth targets and why the challenges of the past year have made the brand stronger than ever before.

Speaker Bio

Scott Deviney

Scott Deviney CEO Chicken Salad Chick

Scott Deviney is the President and CEO of Chicken Salad Chick serving in this role since May 2015 after partnering with a private equity firm to purchase the company from the founders. Since taking over as CEO, the company has grown from 32 restaurants to over 170 in 17 states. Prior to the Covid pandemic, the company had fourteen straight quarters of positive same-store sales. Prior to his tenure at Chicken Salad Chick Scott was a franchisee of 24 Wendy’s restaurants in Georgia where he ran that business for six years. Before purchasing his Wendy’s business, Scott held various roles over a thirteen-year period in the banking industry, including roles in restaurant financing and advisory.
For More Information contact [email protected]

Related Posts

Pizza Delivery Robots Rolling Out (and more)

Pizza Delivery Robots

Pizza Delivery From Starship reported by Mashable — Starship Technologies is sending robots to college campuses, delivering everything from Starbucks to Panda Express.

pizza delivery robot

pizza delivery robot

Link to Video

Robot Food Delivery at Universities with Sodexo

From Progressive Grocer August 2021 —

In yet another example of how robot food delivery is gaining traction in the United States, Kiwibot, a robotic last-mile delivery company, has teamed with foodservice and facilities management company Sodexo North America to begin offering the service at three university campuses this month: New Mexico State University; Loyola Marymount University, in California; and Gonzaga University, in Washington state.

The companies envision a subscription program in which every person at a Sodexo-serviced location can access any goods that can fit into a robot, and are located within a university campus.

Kiwibot delive

kiwibot food delivery robot

Grocery Store Chain Now Accepting Paypal and Venmo – First one

Digital Payments at Giant Eagle Now Accepted from Paypal and Venmo

digital payment paypal venmo

digital payment paypal venmo

From Progressive Grocer August 2021

In Brief

  • According to Blackhawk
    • 59% surveyed using digital wallet
    • Of all tools, 48% using QR codes
  • Giant Eagle lets them pay with mobile app
  • Digital payments are driving loyalty rates up
  • 63% more likely to shop where digital payment provided
  • 73% want to pay in-store same way they pay online
  • Paypal is #1 tool
  • Giant Eagle sales 10B with 470 stores


Cash is no longer king. With digital payments becoming more ingrained in our day-to-day lifestyle, Giant Eagle, Inc. and global branded payments company Blackhawk Network have partnered with PayPal and Venmo to bring these payment methods to each of the retailer’s 474 supermarket and GetGo locations. With this announcement, Giant Eagle and GetGo become the first grocery and convenience store chains in the United States allowing customers to pay with PayPal and Venmo at the register.

Amazon Imposes Surcharge On VISA Payments

Amazon VISA Surcharge News

From PaymentDive August 2021 — Amazon takes on Visa by imposing a surcharge in area and leaving open the possibility of extending it elsewhere to fight what it calls “Visa’s high cost of payments.”

In Brief:

  • Singapore Amazon customers are the first to see 0.5% surcharge on VISA payment use
  • From Amazon — To avoid this surcharge, we encourage you to use a debit or non-Visa credit card as the default payment method in your account,” said the notice.
  • No comment from VISA
  • Colorado passed law allowing merchants to assess surcharge covering VISA charges — Specifically it eliminates ban on surcharges
  • Data shows the costs for collection of fees has gone down while the fees have gone up, thus becoming a burden
  • In related news — AMC Theaters now accepts Bitcoin

amazon logo image
Retail giant Amazon is taking on card behemoth Visa with plans to impose a half percent surcharge on all Visa credit card transactions in Singapore starting next month in its first ever such surcharge.

“Due to Visa’s high cost of payments, beginning 15 September 2021, Amazon will apply 0.5% surcharge to purchases made using Visa credit cards on,” the company said in a notice today to its Singapore site customers. “To avoid this surcharge, we encourage you to use a debit or non-Visa credit card as the default payment method in your account,” said the notice, which was provided by Amazon.

Asked if the surcharge could be extended to other parts of the world, a spokesperson for Amazon declined to comment, but suggested the Seattle-based company might consider adding the surcharge elsewhere. “Singapore is the first country we’ve decided to make changes in, but this is a global issue and is not isolated to Singapore,” the spokesperson said by email.
Read full article at PaymentDive
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