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‘Automated Department Store’ Kiosk Concept Launches in Canada with Plans for Expansion: Interview

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A new kiosk concept called Dori is being launched as a pilot project in the CF Toronto Eaton Centre, which is basically a mini-department store made of multiple brands with products that are curated for the location the kiosk is located.

Noam Hazan, CEO of Dori, said the business model for this new concept is simple. 

“We help brands access high footfall locations through automated kiosks and we help landlords activate underutilized space for retail. It’s a plug and play model where we take care of all the operational elements of the business and let the brand maintain control of the digital – such as pricing, advertisements on location and even updating SKU’s,” he said.

Dori at CF Toronto Eaton Centre (Image: InHouse Creative)

“The beauty is that brands can now launch stores remotely from the comfort of their offices. For example an Australian company can set up a physical point of sale in Toronto without ever stepping foot in the country. Eventually we will also have a click and collect feature where people can order items in advance. This is just the tip of the iceberg of what we are working on.”

Hazan is an architect who used to design commercial projects such as retail and office spaces. 

“The future of retail is going to be highly automated and why don’t we see if there’s a way to start experimenting in that space,” he said. “That was where Klear Vending came out of, a PPE vending concept which was their first exposure in non-traditional vending in the public domain.

Noam Hazan, CEO of Dori (Image: InHouse Creative)

“From there we thought, how can we really provide a valuable experience to brands and to customers through automated retail. A lot of direct to consumer local brands are trying to become more omnichannel. They’re trying to find ways to get their product out there beyond what they have available to them.

“For example, for most direct to consumer brands opening a physical store requires a huge investment. It’s a completely different type of infrastructure. We’re offering an easier way to ease into a brick and mortar space and provide an opportunity to sell products in a physical location at a very low risk on flexible terms. That’s sort of the thesis and how we can basically help brands get their product in front of people in high foot traffic locations without having to open a full brick and mortar store and do a build out.”

Dori at CF Toronto Eaton Centre (Image: InHouse Creative)

The pilot project with Dori at the Eaton Centre will feature products that would appeal to shoppers on a more experiential basis – French macarons, cheesecake on a stick, gourmet candy, high end soaps and candles, and a collection of novelty items and gifts. There will be eight to 10 brands.

  • The Cocktail Box Co
  • Alicja Confections
  • Carole’s Cheesecake Company
  • Clover Botanicals
  • Maple & Leather
  • The Macaron Boutique
  • Funko
  • Sweet Sushi
  • Bon Bons
  • Nosh Balls

It will be located on the lower concourse on the south side by the Queen’s Street entrance.

“We’re using really sophisticated machines and we are really focused on the retail experience,” said Hazan.

“When people think of vending machines, they think of chocolate bars and potato chips. These are much higher end products.”

Hazan said the goal is to expand the concept across the country and eventually into the US.

Dori at CF Toronto Eaton Centre (Image: InHouse Creative)

“We want to work with a variety of landlords to offer this retail experience whether it’s malls, hotels, potentially hospitals, business centres. For each location we would curate the types of brands that we are offering at those locations for the people there,” he said.

“Right now we’re starting with the malls because we have a relationship with those landlords and we’ll see where it goes.”

The system is modular so depending on the location, the kiosk size can be increased or reduced depending on the available space. 

“What may seem like regular Vending’s machines from their appearance, Dori has developed a whole backend technology that enables brands to view live data and analytics and also manage their content and prices, remotely.” 

The company is planning to launch a smart sampling program in 2022 that enables brands to give away thousands of samples whilst also collecting user-input data such as emails or phone numbers. Their technology will also enable real-time feedback and deep sales analytics. 

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior National Business Journalist with Retail Insider in addition to working on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.

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