Crown Technologies, a Singapore-based smart retail solutions provider, has inked a strategic, cross-border investment deal with Japan’s JR East Business Development SEA, a subsidiary of East Japan Railway Company, that brings the company to an initial valuation of S$33 million.
The investment will accelerate the rollout of ELLA—Crown Technologies’ AI-powered robotic barista designed for unmanned and contactless retail operations in high-volume environments—across East Japan Railway’s network of 1,657 train stations that serve an average of 17 million passengers daily, with completion slated to meet the increased demands of the Tokyo Olympics 2021.
Powered by an ecosystem comprising patented proprietary IoT (Internet of Things)-connected software and external hardware that upgrades the coffee experience with speed, convenience, quality and consistency, each kiosk is capable of producing 200 cups of barista-quality coffee per hour, operating 24 hours a day and seven days a week. ELLA’s modular set-up allows its offerings to be localized for Japan market.
Immersive and innovative digital touchpoints such as an interactive transparent OLED screen and mobile app ordering system with its own payment gateway and e-wallet allows JR East to tap into a myriad of engagement possibilities such as advertisements and notifications targeted directly to the end user.
On the backend, computer vision powered by artificial intelligence is monitoring the kiosk 24/7 for any abnormalities that may affect ELLA’s operations. Meanwhile, a fulfillment module, powered by its own mobile app, uses predictive analytics to forecast demand and digitize the supply chain management, allowing JR East to support the replenishment and servicing of the kiosk with only a lean fulfilment team with the power of big data.
Following this strategic round of financing, Crown Technologies will be launching its Series A round shortly, as well as the deployment 30 additional commercial units of ELLA across Singapore. It launched the first commercial unit in October 2020.