The Wife and I recently went to a Buffalo Wild Wings for lunch and got water as usual with that being the only option that won’t run us $2+. At this particular BWW they had a Coca-Cola Freestyle machine which boasts to having over 100+ flavor options coming out of one machine. Most of the “options” are based out off adding different flavors like orange, vanilla, cherry or other flavors to existing types of soda. This machine takes it to the next level with the various syrups additions creating almost any spin you would like on a classic drink… seems cool right?
Even in the short time we were eating I noticed some serious flaws as a consumer and from a business standpoint. First off, you pick your drink from the screen and pick whatever additives you want as long as they are predefined by the Coca-Cola Company. You can have 8+ flavors of regular Coke, but only have 3 options when it comes to Mr. Pibb. I would like the option to screw up my beverage by adding something other than cherry or vanilla. Another downside as a user of the machine is it creates the “waiting for the Redbox” feel when waiting for someone else to decide the details of their beverage. Some people took over 30 seconds as a line developed to decide it would be best for them to stick with regular Coke, which is a little long for me.
The business-side flaw in the machine (possibly more behind the scenes) is that we actually witnessed employees needing to dump bags of (what looked like) store purchased ice into this machine. It can make 100+ flavors, but you need to add ice to have it as an option. If they don’t have a broken ice machine on site, I am guessing that the ice bags with retail branding could possibly drive the price up significantly.
Maybe this feature will draw people in initially like self checkouts, but you won’t find me ordering more than a water at BWW anytime soon.