Words by Ashley Pini
Next time you walk into a bar in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Taiwan or Korea there’s a chance you may be greeted by a robot speaking multiple languages and inviting you to enter via face-scanning technology. It’s then that the real fun begins.
“Hey, don’t you want to have a drink?” it enquires in multiple languages, followed by an array of touch screen options that allow you to dive deep into wine – showing pairing options, winemaker facts, information about the winery, mixers, etc. Television screens display the history of a wine’s home chateau before linking you to the chateau’s Tmall flagship store so you can order your favourite wines online.
The ‘Future Bar’ is the brainchild of Tmall, owned by Alibaba, and was revealed last week at Hong Kong’s Vinexpo. It’s set up for an off-premise store rather than a bar itself, and is well-suited to brick-and-mortar sellers with limited retail space.
It is, however, potentially suited to a number of applications and at the Tmall stand there were many bar/cafe owners asking how this could work for them. The ability to try the wine and immediately place an order to have the wine delivered straight to your home (on the same day) is very appealing, as consumers are still consuming in your bar, café or restaurant. Try before you buy, and enjoy more when you get home.
Guillaume Deglise, CEO of Vinexpo, said of the technology: “These are groundbreaking new technological developments in retail that have big implications for the wine and spirits industry – and great opportunities too.”