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In the next month, we will be launching Sally the Salad Robot at our first convenience store chain. This will be the first ever food making robot in a convenience store. I believe this will have significant implications in the long term – both for salads in convenience stores, and for the advent of robotics in the convenience store world. Let me explain.

Salads in Convenience Stores

The below picture shows the life cycle of a typical convenience store salad. A salad packaging company typically gets the produce, washes ingredients, dries them and packages them up with special technology called modified atmosphere packaging.

When Sally the Salad Robot is used in a convenience store, a step in the supply chain is eliminated, as the below figure shows! This makes the salad a lot more affordable – since the packaging vendor normally has their margins, there is a transportation cost overhead from the packaging vendor and steps like modified atmosphere packaging cost money. The salad is fresher as well due to elimination of a step in the supply chain. With the convenience store chain we’re launching with, we are pricing an entree size chicken caesar salad at $3.49. This is the lowest priced chicken caesar salad in Silicon Valley!

Besides the cost and freshness benefits, there is another reason why I am excited about Sally being used in convenience stores. Sally the Salad Robot allows mass customization. With 22 ingredients, more than 1000 salad combinations are possible. We all know how millennials and customers in general love to customize their food. It is always a tastier salad when people can choose the ingredients they want in the salad, instead of just buying a boxed salad with non-customizable ingredients. This, we believe, will boost salad sales in the convenience store.

We are launching with just salads, but it is not difficult to dispense customizable fruits, candy, yogurt, breakfast, Asian bowls and other foods with our technology.

The Advent of Food Making Robots in Convenience Stores

Our launch with our convenience store partner brings up another milestone: this will be the first food making robot in a convenience store. Convenience stores are losing tobacco revenue in a big way due to legislation and changing habits now. They are looking at fresh food as a high margin frontier to compensate for this tobacco revenue loss.

Now, a fresh food offering in a convenience store would ideally have

  • Low labor costs since only one or two people normally work in a convenience store
  • 24/7 availability

Both of these are things robotics brings to the table – a robot has minimal labor costs and is available 24/7. It doesn’t quit its job and go work somewhere else. Sally the Salad Robot and future robots from us will focus on nutritious food, a trend convenience stores want to hop on to. I foresee many other robots making their way into convenience stores after Sally.

Why I am Excited about Sally the Salad Robot in Convenience Stores

Our vision at Chowbotics is to make nutritious food available anytime, anywhere using robotics and make it tasty and affordable. Adoption in the convenience store world would make our vision a reality in the not-too-distant future. Due to the proliferation of convenience stores across the country, people would have easy access to nutritious food, it would be available 24/7 and like I pointed out above, this nutritious food would be tasty due to customization. We’d make this nutritious food affordable as well due to elimination of steps in the supply chain.

We’ve been happy to see others recognize this trend as well. Sally the Salad Robot was chosen as a category disruptor for the convenience store of the future recently. She was also selected as one of top 5 equipment tools in the National Association of Convenience Stores show last year. We look forward to working with our convenience store partners and providing nutritious food to people all over the world in the next few years.