Tortoise mobile vending machines trialled in US

Delivery robot company Tortoise has launched a mobile vending machine robot in the US. This is a step away from last mile delivery, for which the Tortoise robots were originally developed.

The mobile vending machines with tap-to-pay payment systems will initially be trialled with 18 retail partners, and will go live in the next financial quarter. The idea behind their development is to offer client businesses an entirely new sales channel and help them with growth.

Different to standard vending machines, the Tortoise robots will be selling premium-end SKUSs such as $35 pastry boxes and $300 headphones, rather than things like tins of Coke and chocolate bars.

Each robot will be monitored by a ‘remote store clerk’ monitoring any unpredictable behaviour and will have systems like audio instructions for customers to use them.

Tortoise started trialling the mobile vending machines late last year and amongst other things, showed they can earn typically twenty-five times the typical hourly earnings of a static vending machine, with one firm generating $100 an hour by placing it outside its stores three hours after the store had closed.

Tortoise charges nothing for the software or hardware, but does take 10% of gross sales, and this helps small businesses thanks to its pricing structure.

Tortoise president and co-founder Dmitry Shevelenko said, “[Small merchants] need incremental sales. This is a marketing engine; it attracts that foot traffic and monetises it better for them. So we certainly see this as being something that enables local businesses to thrive and hire more employees.”

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