Colruyt Group Smart Technics and Innovend enter into strategic partnership

Colruyt Group Smart Technics and Innovend enter into strategic partnership

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Colruyt Group Smart Technics, the Belgian retail group's innovation team, is launching a strategic partnership with Innovend, an innovative Dutch provider of unmanned sales solutions. This collaboration is in line with the belief that in this rapidly evolving market of ‘24/7 point of sale solutions’, you can move much faster together than alone. A first co-creation by the two partners, a new Smart Fridge will be on display at the EuroShop retail fair in Dusseldorf from 27 February.

Setting the trend together in a rapidly changing market

Smart Technics is an innovative start-up within Colruyt Group, offering a wide range of services, from engineering and project management to the design and implementation of technological solutions, both for the retail environment and for Colruyt Group logistics centres and manufacturing operations. This innovation team has been working on stand-alone smart pantry technology for some time. These have already been successfully in use for almost a year at various clubs of fitness chain Jims and were recently rolled out in a modular arrangement at company canteens, ‘Spar For You’.

Some major milestones have already been achieved to introduce this smart technology in a retail context, with the innovative store concept OKay Direct in Ghent, and most recently the new OKay Direct in Lennik (in container format). Kim Vancauwenberghe, managing director of Smart Technics: “We want to continue focusing on projects modelled on that Automated Store in the coming period. Some things are just better done together than alone. Accordingly, we entered into structural discussions with a player who is very complementary to us to share knowledge in order to achieve a perfect product."

Innovend, a Dutch innovative tech company active in unmanned sales solutions for all kinds of sectors, will henceforth become a strategic partner in the self-service story. The company has been offering a full range of unmanned solutions under the name Zuply since 2011, which have the advantage of being both modular and combinable. Sander Sciarone, CEO of Innovend: “We have grown alongside that very interesting market and now operate in different sectors and countries. Through this strategic cooperation with Colruyt Group, we are building a rock-solid Belgian-Dutch innovation platform. This will allow us to lead together even more and be trendsetters in a rapidly evolving market. It will give us access to the retail market and in addition, it will allow our existing distribution partners in several EU countries, as well as recently in the US and Canada, to benefit so that we can quickly scale up our innovations."

A new shopping experience – ‘Made in Europe’

The strategic cooperation involves much more intensive co-creation going forward: both parties want to contribute technology and experience to develop an optimal product or service. A first result of that co-creation will be on display from 27 February at EuroShop in Dusseldorf, Europe's biggest retail fair: a new Smart Fridge.

The Smart Fridge is initially very much focused on food, but its construction makes the solution perfectly usable in other industries as well. Unlike traditional vending machines, an innovative solution like this offers much more of a real shopping experience, for any target group and any age, with no restriction in terms of opening hours. Thanks to its modular structure, this type of solution is easy to fit into all kinds of locations. There is also a focus on aesthetics (as they look really nice too) and on digital aspects. The goal is to create the next ‘Spar For You’ solutions collaboratively within this concept.

Sander Sciarone concludes: “There was an excellent click between the two teams right from the start, and our confidence in knowing that we’re a complimentary match has only grown. In concrete terms, that means we will work together on solutions to offer remote point of sales, both in B2B and B2C: scalable, from small stand-alone options to large shops. Through structured cooperation, we can now even better pursue our goals towards a much shorter time to market, and greater responsiveness. There is more to come.”

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