The Bummer Experience of Coke’s Fancy Touchscreen Fountain

The downfall to a real world 11th Screen solution reared its ugly head this weekend. Unfortunately, it was from one of my favorite brands and a fun, albeit novel, experience: Coke’s 106 Flavor touch screen soda fountain. We were eating at a casual dining restaurant and I noticed that they had a couple of these kiosks. And that’s when I noticed the problem – they only had a couple of these kiosks.

Yes, the footprint of these babies is at least twice the footprint of a regular ol’ soda fountain. So, the restaurant is losing out on precious real estate, especially when they’re trying to jam these into the existing real estate.

Coke's touch screen fountain

While size is an issue, the real problem is that these are just not as simple as the regular ol’ soda fountain. With this big daddy, there’s only one way to get ice and one way to get (any one of the 106 flavors of) soda. And it’s through one dispenser right in the middle of the thing.

At least with the old fashioned fountains, they were set up in a way that once you get your ice, you can move down the line to get your soda. The line has a nice flow to it. Here, the patrons are just forced to wait while the others fumble through the right process (pressing the right buttons) to get their ice, then fumble through picking their selection out of an overwhelming amount of flavors, and then, literally a minute later, might have their own go at it. Unless, of course, multiple glasses are in need of a fill-up, and then there’s a longer wait.

Coke's touch screen fountain

I think this contraption is great. But when I want a soda, I just want the soda. I don’t want to wait in a line longer than 10 seconds for someone to get their ice and move down the line. I certainly don’t want to see them figuring out how to work their way through this experience.

When I first saw this machine, I was at a movie theatre and they had about 10 of them. If we waited in line, another machine quickly opened up. Here at the restaurant, with only 2, it was a different story. The movie theatre experience seemed cool and fun. This one just seemed annoying.

While this new fountain gives me the ability to choose from 106 flavors and work my way through it via a touch screen, it makes the simple process of getting soda more complicated. And that, my friends, is a bummer.

I believe technology like this can make our lives easier. Here’s an example – at least for the here and now – where it’s proved to do the opposite.


3 thoughts on “The Bummer Experience of Coke’s Fancy Touchscreen Fountain

  1. Steve Gurley

    My experience has been at a Boston Market. It was lunch time and the machine was out of almost everything except the most obscure flavors.

  2. Ian McCready

    I used one at a Pei Wei and there was only one. Lucky for me it was not peak hours and I didn’t have to wait at all, but i couldn’t help thinking the exact same thing you were about how unpractical it was for moving volume through the line. I would assume they will improve upon the technology and add more stations in less space, but for the time being it is just too bulky…

  3. Mike Cearley Post author

    Thanks for the comments, guys. From Coke’s POV, they just want these things in as many venues as possible. The question I ask is, why would the restaurant think this is a better alternative? Unless, of course, they’re forced to work with these machines because of other deals. The footprint just has to be addressed because right now, it’s turning a solid use of technology into a headache.

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