Hung Fook Tong launches AI-based tea kiosks

Herbal tea chain Hung Fook Tong has launched intelligent AI-based tea kiosks.

In a move to capture a sale within the short window of time a customer will spend to make a purchasing choice, Hung Fook Tong’s “Hung+” kiosks apply visual recognition technology and AI to calculate what each purchaser’s unique tastes are likely to be and offer a product selection based on that data.

The vending-machine-style kiosks, developed in Hong Kong by IBM partner Tech Data, calculate personalised product recommendations based on an analysis of POS climate, age, gender, and so on, profiling each customer as they queue to use the machine to offer targeted promotions. The sales data can then be used cumulatively to plot sales trends for the kiosks themselves.

Hung Fook Tong AI-based tea kiosks

Given the capital expenditure for a new Hung Fook Tong store averaging around HK$800,000 (US$102,400), the AI kiosks represent a massive costs saving on a 24/7 outlet. The technology is part of a focussed effort to improve company returns and gather more data on customer trends.

Hung Fook Tong GM Dr Szeto Wing-Fu said the company currently has about 10 smart vending machines in operation, and 20 will be in operation by the end of the year to cover locations beyond the current 117 stores. Commercial and office buildings will be a priority for locations.

“Hung Fook Tong will be investing in big data research, smart vending machines and the development of unmanned stores,” he said.

Tech Data GM Alan Hui said: “Artificial intelligence is no longer emerging – it’s now a practical technology that can be applied widely in different industries and business operations. The new AI kiosks that Hung Fook Tong is rolling out in the retail sector are positive proof of how widespread AI has become and the impact it is having on everyone’s daily life.”

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