The flexibility with which items can be purchased in unique environments has influenced traditional sales channels. This is particularly evident in Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) markets, where the demand to increase the quantity of diminutive mark-ups in saturated markets has changed the retail business model. In addition, for some consumer goods, recent legislation places further pressure on organisations to ensure that they remain within ethical standards.
This dynamic and legislated environment applies to the BATSA SHUTTLE unit shown above. The product dispenses packets of cigarettes in HORECA environments which comprise of hotels, restaurants, cafes, and shebeens (South African informal bar/pub). HORECA locations are highly demanding and require unique functional and aesthetic product characteristics. For example, an upmarket hotel may require a dispensing machine to comply with a set interior design or brand language, and for cafes and shebeens, contested shelf space necessitates a compact form factor. With regards to legislation, the South African Department of Health has implemented strict controls on what cigarette branding is permissible in public spaces.
Although a large portion of the SHUTTLE’s design phase focused on managing engineering risk related to the dispensing mechanism, the operating environment was a constant reminder of the demanding business model the unit ultimately needed to operate in. The cigarette sales mark-up is so minimal, that if mechanical failure or theft resulted in just one packet being unaccounted for, an entire carton of cigarettes would need to be sold just to make up for this lost packet’s manufacturing cost. Likewise, for maintenance, previous dispensing solutions required down-time for repair, and which in turn resulted in potential lost revenue. In order to cater for such business realities, the modular carousel mechanism shown above was designed into the BATSA SHUTTLE unit to mitigate lost sales. The design permits localised areas of the product to be repaired without having to decommission the entire unit, which from a marketing perspective, allows sales to continue relatively uninterrupted.
Design Team: Ryan Fowler, Roelf Mulder, Byron Qually, and Richard Perez
Design and Manufacture: Cape Town, South Africa and China
Project Date: 2009