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Roastea: Using IoT to track customers’ beverage consumption habits

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The total addressable market for hot beverages is estimated to be 50,000 crores, while the total addressable market for vending machines in numbers is estimated to be 1,25,000 crores. This made it apt for the founders of Roastea to enter and create a niche for themselves with their offering and also leverage it with technology

It goes without saying that tea and coffee remain the most preferred beverages in India. Where Nescafe with its vending machine ruled the market, today we have many homegrown brands entering this space and winning accolades and patronage too – for the range they offer and the technology they have been adopting to ensure customer satisfaction at each leg of the beverage’s journey. Roastea has been launched out of the need to offer ‘ghar wali chai’ and filter coffee at corporate level, which so far has been at the mercy of machine tea that tastes more like a sweetened hot beverage, far away from the actual tea Indians are accustomed to.

The journey

Explaining the brand ethos, Chaitanya Bhamidipaty, co-founder, Roastea shares, “Roastea corporate vending solutions offer never before products, be it in taste, variety, ease of operations, hygiene, costs. The kind of brewing of both filter coffee and varieties of tea at one go has never before been seen in any machines given by any competitor. Hence this in itself was unique enough to be able to carve out a niche. Together with this, our excellent operational service, maintenance and after sales service, constant focus on quality, innovation, and sustainability has helped us carve out a unique space in the highly competitive beverage industry.”

The brand made its debut in 2019 and since inception, every year their growth has been a staggering 3.5 times over the previous year, giving them a 21 times growth in revenues since inception. “We started with corporate vending solutions, then ventured into outlets in 2021 and after making that proť table have recently started functional instant coffees, through the D2C route. In a short span of 3.5 years we are present in 17 cities, with about 8000 machines and 8 outlets and aspiring to grow it even more next year,” adds Chaitanya.

Citing the most prominent challenge the team had to meet was winning customer trust considering the market wasn’t ready to believe that vending machines could provide the taste and experience of ‘ghar wali chai’ and filter coffee. Chaitanya shares, “The existing brands also had in a way shaken the confidence of getting a good beverage from a MACHINE. We had to penetrate this market and first make the consumer ‘unlearn’ and ‘erase’ his bad memories of a beverage from the machine. And then convince him to look at and try a completely different solution and make his/her own opinion.” 

He further elaborates, “Every vending machine in India caters for premix products, compromising on the taste and quality of beverages. We offer a wide bouquet of beverages including tasteful to healthy options. Our coffee offerings include the local filter coffee taste as well as cappuccino and latte from our bean-to-cup machines. Our tea offerings include kadak chai to green tea.”

Targeting PAN India presence, the brand aims to grow to 2500+ vending machines and 30 cafes and kiosks by FY24 in 23 cities and 10 states. 

Technological advancements

roastea vending machinesTo enable remote monitoring of their vending machines, Roastea has adopted Internet of Things (IoT) technology. According to Chaitanya, this technology can track consumption rate of cups and beverages, determine the refill status of coffee and tea packets, and receive health reports for each vending machine. “This allows us to instantly address any breakdown or complaint. The IoT technology transmits crucial information to our tech dashboard, ensuring smooth operation of all vending machines with operational excellence. By leveraging IoT, we can also track customer preferences and optimize resource utilization. We have additionally implemented touchless dispensing across our vending machines, which is very important to ensure the safety of our customers,” adds Chaitanya.

The brand has several exclusive technologies that are unique – like their vending machines are automated with a unique brewing technology which gives excellent taste and consistency across India. Chaitanya reveals that the adoption of these technologies has helped the operational efficiency of the brand, extended means to instantly address any problems in the machine, offer excellent after sale service, enhance customer experience, increase sales and provide real-time insights into consumer behaviour and preferences. 

Charting the future course of action

“Our marketing strategy in calendar 2023 and financial year 23-24 will involve expanding our reach across all three verticals to more cities, targeting large corporate clients and positioning our products in premium outlets in high-street markets. We would be adding very large corporates, banks, multi-nationals, MSMEs and HORECA. Moreover, for our D2C vertical, existing marketplaces such as Amazon and Flipkart will be leveraged to reach a larger target audience, taking advantage of their existing infrastructure and consumer base,” shares Chaitanya.

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