Automated Retail

Combining the convenience of automation and the instant gratification of retail, ZoomSystems was founded in 2002 to provide consumers with so-called vending machines, the first of its kind to offer such a wide variety of high-end brands. ZoomSystems has established a network of automated retail stores, called ZoomShops, in high-traffic locations such as airports, shopping centers, supermarkets, and retail with brands such as iPod, Rosetta Stone and Proactiv. “ZoomShops are not high-end vending machines, but automated, self-service stores. ZoomShops are different because they give the consumer access to high-end brands, provide education and shopping information about the product, and are an extremely profitable sales channel. No vending machine can do what a ZoomShop can do. It is a different experience,” said ZoomSystems CEO Gower Smith.

ZoomShops automate all the capabilities of a retail channel, allowing brand and location partners to differentiate themselves with an enhanced consumer experience. Consumers purchase products through a touch screen user interface on each ZoomShop. Users are educated about high-end brand products through each store’s software program and video display. Shoppers can pay for purchases using a credit or debit card and the purchase of their choice is then delivered immediately by a robotic arm. Patented technology ensures that the card is not charged until the product has been delivered and received by the consumer. And although product returns were a concern initially, the company has made good on any defective products to build consumer trust. All ZoomShops are centrally networked and monitored and provide brands an efficient way to grow their revenue and profits, resulting in the highest sales-per-square-foot average in the retail environment. There are roughly 1,000 ZoomShops, primarily in the U.S. and Japan, and generated more than $120 million in total sales for the company’s retail partners in 2009—a year when the global retail sector experienced significant contraction and challenges.

“We are continuing to deliver results for our customers, even in this challenging economic environment,” said Smith. “The continued support from institutional investors is a testament to the strength of the ZoomSystems’ business.”

The company also recently announced a partnership with The Body Shop. In addition to traditional locations, The Body Shop-branded ZoomShops will also be featured at leading supermarket chains—including Kroger Marketplace, Stop & Shop, H-E-B and Jewel-Osco across the U.S. Representing a new retail vertical for ZoomSystems, these are the first grocery locations to take advantage of ZoomShops. “We are excited to offer consumers a convenient and hassle-free new channel to shop for the products offered by The Body Shop,” said Smith. “The Body Shop is an iconic natural beauty product brand that has a loyal and dedicated customer base, making it a terrific partner to launch in supermarket locations.”

Owned by L’Oréal, The Body Shop, with a focus on seeking out natural ingredients, has 2,400 stores in 61 countries, and is the second largest cosmetic franchise in the world. “Consumers will love The Body Shop ZoomShops for our naturally inspired products and the shopping convenience,” said Al Montalvo, director of new sales and emerging channels for The Body Shop. “More than ever, customers today want to access products on their own terms when and where they want to. For The Body Shop it is an opportunity to meet their expectations in an innovative way.”