“This bottle opener is the only one of its kind in the world, there are some that simply count the number of openings, but without a product recognition function,” confirms Kristjan Tozen. “It was quite a challenge to develop it so that the photo could be taken as stable and with even light as possible, for this we built a small flashlight into the bottle opener.”
Development work in Estonia and Vietnam
Because of the bottle opener project, Krakul’s small team had to fly quite a few times to Vietnam, where part of Wecheer’s development activities and also production takes place. “The first time was in the summer of 2017 when the first prototypes began to be completed – we flew to the site to meet the rest of the team and test and develop the prototypes. After that, we went a few more times, tested new versions in bars and also immediately received useful feedback. We also visited a local factory where we introduced and improved the opener production process,” Tozen says. In addition to the planned trips, a long journey to Vietnam had to be undertaken as a last resort. “There was a situation where the equipment stopped working for some reason after coming off the factory production line. The client sent us some devices to Tallinn and they worked with us. We had no choice but to take a one-way ticket to Vietnam. In a few days, the error was mapped and corrected, and production could continue. Then we came home.”
Aurèle de Bosset of Wecheer highlights the same point when he lists the strengths of his cooperation partner. “Their flexibility and reactivity to jump on a plane and fly to another world with two days’ notice are admirable. They have shown the will and ability to develop further not only our product but also move forward in the work specifics. I think that is the key word – the desire to achieve not a good result, but the best result,” says Aurèle de Bosset.
Smart bottle openers became more widely used in 2018 when more devices were produced and a certain level of reliability and quality was achieved. However, because it is always possible to take a step in the better direction in product development, Krakul is already working on a new version of the smart bottle opener. “The goal is to make the device even more durable, to optimize the assembly process and quality, and also to lower the production price,” lists Kristjan Tozen. In addition, the developers also have to take into account the human factor – since drink manufacturers sometimes pay bar employees a sales bonus for the bottles opened by the smart bottle opener, the device must make sure that the bottle is actually opened. That’s why additional sensors and detection algorithms have been added to the new version.
Marketing is moving toward direct communication
However, the Wecheer team is confident that the smart bottle opener and other technological solutions that monitor consumer behavior are the new directions of customer communication. “For Wecheer, the smart bottle opener led to the realization that brands need to free themselves from third-party distributors and find more creative ways to collect data and interact with consumers. That led Wecheer to expand beyond the bottle opener, we now have also solutions based on OCR and QR technologies,” said Aurèle de Bosset.
“The market is changing and brands cannot continue to sell as they have in the past. They need to look for better ways to engage directly with consumers, regardless of where they purchase. We believe this is a huge shift in the way of doing business, and we are just at the beginning.
In times of economic uncertainty, marketing expenditures have to be even more focused and effective. This means not only collecting more data but more importantly taking action on it. The smart bottle opener and other similar IoT products are a perfect combination of data and action,” says Aurèle de Bosset.
- To date, almost 20 thousand smart bottle openers have been produced and more than 13 million bottles have been opened with them. This year, Wecheer plans to manufacture another 20 thousand smart openers.
- Openers have been operating in Brazil, Vietnam, Mexico, Colombia, Switzerland, and Italy for AbInBev and Coca-Cola.