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The new WMF Virtual Showroom – Interview Renaud Gey, Vice President Strategic Marketing & Product Management GBU Professional Coffee Machines

“The new virtual showroom leaves nothing to be desired. In addition to the entire product portfolio of WMF Professional Coffee Machines, it offers everything worth knowing about our various services and digital solutions, all the way to the unique taste universe in the WMF Coffee Excellence Centre. Based on the look & feel of our trade fair design, the guests feel as if they are at a "real" booth of WMF Professional Coffee Machines as soon as they enter the virtual showroom.” Renaud Gey, Vice President Strategic Marketing & Product Management GBU Professional Coffee Machines.

Can you explain a little about the thinking behind the new virtual showroom by WMF?

Digitalisation is advancing relentlessly in all areas of society. Especially nowadays, almost all companies are dealing with digital concepts for communication and interaction. This includes not only video conferences and digital meetings, but also virtual events and trade fairs. Against this background, WMF has just launched its virtual showroom to offer customers a new way to experience our products. These new ways of addressing customers are certainly not intended to replace or displace face-to-face conversations. But in times of reduced contact opportunities, they offer an excellent platform for exchange – whether for general product information, personal consultations or even sales. In addition, the new experience rooms appeal to a new generation of WMF buyers. After all, for young restaurateurs and hoteliers, using virtual media and platforms is already part of everyday life. Accordingly, in the next step we have planned to use the showroom as a basis for live presentations as well as to integrate possibilities for a direct contact to the customer service and sales department via messenger and call-back button. To sum it up: In one respect, our new virtual showroom is designed to compensate for the inability to hold upcoming trade fairs and events in person due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, it goes far beyond that: we have also developed it as a way to exploit the opportunities available in digitalisation and give our customers a whole new premium WMF experience. We are creating experiences that invite visitors to discover what we have to offer and provide inspiration for new business ideas.

What are some of the main features of the virtual showroom?

The new virtual showroom leaves nothing to be desired. In addition to the entire product portfolio of WMF Professional Coffee Machines, it offers everything worth knowing about our various services and digital solutions, all the way to the unique taste universe in the WMF Coffee Excellence Centre. Based on the look & feel of our trade fair design, the guests feel as if they are at a “real” booth of WMF Professional Coffee Machines as soon as they enter the virtual showroom. All stations are accessed via an intuitive navigation concept. The user moves around by clicking on the brown areas on the floor or uses the three-dimensional map display of the room. One can also use the “a,s,d and w” keys and the keyboard arrows “front, back, right, left” to move intuitively through the room.

Machines & Highlight Counter
Thanks to their high flexibility of use, WMF coffee machines are the perfect partner for any coffee concept. Visitors of the new showroom experience this diversity in a creative and inviting way. The highlight counter at the entrance welcomes the guests right at the beginning with an impressive audiovisual experience around the new WMF 1300 S. Already when approaching, first information is available, which is further deepened by clicking on the machine and its additional equipment – and all this, of course, in three dimensions. All other machine stations also offer various information about the possible applications and functions.

Features & Innovations
WMF’s culture of innovation is demonstrated to our customers, among other things, by the wide range of new functions and technologies that drastically simplify daily work in the coffee business but also open up new business and sales opportunities. The “Features & Innovations” station provides exciting insights into this – from the “Cup Sensor” and the “Cup Guard” to the “Chilled Coffee” and “Fresh Filtered Coffee” technologies and the milk, steam and cleaning systems.

Services
Of course, visitors will also learn everything they need to know about the WMF service team, the largest in-house network in Europe, during their tour.

Digital Solutions
The discovery tour leads the user further to the digital area, which meets the premium demand for facts and benefits with its diverse digital solutions around WMF CoffeeConnect, WMF SmartRemote, WMF Self-Payment Solutions and web applications.

Coffee Excellence Centre
The coffee bar of the WMF Coffee Excellence area awaits with delicious recipes for trendy coffee specialties and informs with exciting stories from the world of coffee. This also includes a comprehensive e-learning offer – from the coffee plant and its cultivation to roasting and extraction to the sensory perception of the finished beverage.

Product Finder & Contact
Of course, the high-quality 3D room has various convenience functions, such as a product finder. This helps customers to find the ideal machine for their individual requirements and to send a direct inquiry. In addition to the currently implemented contact via e-mail, direct interaction in real time, a call-back button and live presentations will also be possible in a next step. Last but not least, the option of switching between German and English is another convenience feature.

Why was it important for WMF to pivot towards digital over the last year?

The holistic solution approach of WMF is the basis of our market leading position as it represents a symbiotic combination of outstanding products, services and digital solutions. Therefore, they are not only the driving force for process improvements and revenue increases in the day-to-day business of the customers. They also represent a highly agile innovation culture, which WMF passes on to their customers through new impulses. If we just look at the development of our platform WMF CoffeeConnect, we can see the desire of our customers to fully exploit business potential through digitalisation. WMF not only provides WMF CoffeeConnect as a standard tool but enables customers to connect our coffee machines to their own systems. During the pandemic and the pushed trend to digitisation we noticed a higher need for our digital solutions supporting the normal business. Our professional coffee machines started more and more to get connected in holistic approaches of self-checkout with a trend to “touchless” handling: WMF SmartRemote where one uses the coffee machines without touching the panel by choosing beverages over smartphone without installing an additional app. Robotics that serve coffee one pre-ordered and configured through the app of the store. Unmanned stores where one goes shopping on its own without any staff. Co-working spaces where our coffee machines can be “booked/used” just like you use a printer. All these possibilities can be managed in combination with payment through the stores own apps, using voucher concepts or just established digital payment service providers. With a connected base of more than 70,000 machines worldwide, we have established by far one of the largest telemetry network in the industry – and the trend is rising rapidly.

What other ways has the brand adapted its offering and product portfolio in light of the pandemic?
WMF SmartRemote
WMF SmartRemote The web-based app “WMF SmartRemote” is an innovative tool for ordering and preparing beverages completely contactless and enables restaurateurs, hoteliers and shop owners to continue to deliver their self-service concepts in a way that is hygienic, clean and safe. The app is easy and intuitive to use: scan the QR code with a mobile device, select a coffee specialty, take the beverage when it is ready, then relax and enjoy. Designed as a web-based application, the WMF SmartRemote solution is compatible with any mobile operating system (iOS, Android, Windows or Linux). There is no need to download and install a specific app. The only technology users need is a mobile device camera and a connected Internet browser.
WMF PhotoSimu In times when face-to-face consultations are limited, our augmented reality (AR) application “PhotoSimu” is the perfect buying advisor. Thanks to its realistic presentation of the wide range of coffee machines and equipment options, the app promotes targeted selection. In addition, all important information on the detailed and three-dimensionally visualised devices and combinations are available in bundled form. At the end, a “touch” is enough and all data is sent as a screenshot to the responsible WMF sales representative for further contact.
WMF PhotoSimu

WMF CoffeeConnect
In the course of digitalisation, our telemetry solution WMF CoffeeConnect plays a decisive role. More and more companies are choosing to systematically optimise their operational and strategic business decisions with the help of WMF CoffeeConnect. In addition, the detailed real-time data on the condition, production readiness and output of the machines allow efficient, contactless service processes in maintenance. Users and service technicians are now able to provide high diagnostic depth and near real-time monitoring with “no human touch” for detailed analyses.

WMF Self-Payment Solutions
Our digital solutions are complemented by a functional package for mobile payment solutions and system integrations. With our framework, customers can set up solutions like self-service tills where consumers pay for their beverages without the need for additional staff – an attractive sales driver in times of the pandemic. The platform accommodates the preferred payment method as well as a range of accompanying functions (such as personalised beverage options) in order to adapt fully to the customer’s wishes. The flexible framework makes it easy to incorporate both widely known payment provider concepts and customer-specific solutions or apps. Not only that, but it can also be used to scan vouchers and incorporate loyalty schemes by creating dynamic QR codes.

What has been the biggest impact of the pandemic on the way in which WMF operates?

The pandemic and the associated restrictions, such as the lockdowns, naturally have a serious impact on our customers and partners, particularly in the HoReCa sector, and thus also on the global food industry. At the same time – due to the hygiene regulations – the demand for offerings such as contactless services or our digital solutions is growing. Contactless services, for example, were therefore implemented more quickly than planned before the pandemic.

Looking forward, what does the landscape for the coffee industry as a whole look like?

Looking at the mid-term development, we see the following main topics:

New habits will remain
The global foodservice industry expects that new trends and consumption habits which arised during the pandemic will remain for a couple of years as the out of home market is strongly linked to people mobility.

Self-service concepts expand
More food channels are offering pick-up solutions with minimal human contact. The crisis will drive a renewed push towards contactless options in payment, ordering, and delivery.

Retail and foodservice continue to merge
The push into prepared food occasions, which has been a cornerstone of many grocery and convenience store players’ expansion strategies, will accelerate following the crisis.

Food delivery will grow
The disappearance of eat-in traffic as well as uncertain timetable for its return and continued restrictions on eat-in occasions will mean that more restaurants will continue to offer delivery services or smartphone ordering, with some expanding into grocery sales or meal kit preparation.

Day-to-day retail channels will expand coffee offers
Outlets with food familiarity such as grocery, drug stores or convenience store channels will expand their food/coffee corners and develop new consumption touch-points.

What measures are you putting in place in order to keep moving with the times?

Still thanks to our strong innovation capabilities we have quickly reacted and adapted our offer to customer needs in a changing environment – for example the various contactless services like our mobile or self-payment solutions. New consulting and communication approaches, enabled by our new virtual showroom, were also of particular importance to us. In addition, we focused on new leasing and financing models to accommodate our customers and partners in these uncertain times.
Beyond that, our strong worldwide presence and business size allow us also to catch new opportunities in many countries less impacted by the crisis thanks to our products and services. In this context, we have a strong market position in segments like c-stores, bakeries and quick service restaurants which have been less impacted by the crisis and should reach back pre-crisis-level earlier than other segments with very low level of activity.

Are there any new products or innovations on the horizon?

One of the current top highlights is the new fully automatic machine WMF 1300 S, which now completes our solution portfolio. Looking into the development labs, WMF engineers are intensively focusing on merging the business and technical advantages of automation and process reliability into highly innovative hygiene and automatic cleaning concepts. Last but not least, in the near future, our customers will also benefit from new solutions for small businesses. In this context, we will extend our offer to new segments (for example small offices, bakeries and convenience stores) with an adapted new machine to provide a high-quality result “in the cup” combined with an affordable target price especially for emerging markets.

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