Trend Innovation: Automated Commerce


the ask:

Identify and understand a cultural trend and use it to solve a business problem.


Not to be confused with augmented commerce, automated commerce (a-commerce) is the automation of processes in retail. It helps to reduce (or eliminate) the need for conscious involvement throughout a product’s or service’s lifecycle and is a rapidly growing trend in many developed markets. It involves outsourcing retail experiences to algorithms and smart devices and is geared towards removing friction and changing how customers interact with products and services. Some advanced examples of a-commerce include the Samsung Family Hub Refrigerator, Alipay’s 'Smile to Pay' and Amazon Go stores.


While visiting Richmond’s Hardywood Park Craft Brewery West Creek location, we quickly identified a business problem that could be solved with the introduction of a-commerce - how to cut long lines during peak business hours. We interviewed bartenders and cashiers at different Hardywood locations and found these long lines were due to customer confusion of its frequently changing menu, seasonal product offerings, and beer flavor profiles.


Introducing… Henry, the Hardywood Helper!

We created Henry, a virtual bartender chatbot, to help customers learn more about Hardywood’s offerings, browse and search beer options, and pre-purchase beers while they wait in line or are hanging out with friends at their table.

When customers come into a Hardywood location, they can either interact with Henry at a kiosk at the bar or scan a QR code on the tables to avoid the lines completely.

Not only does Henry cut down the long lines, he also helps make life easier for Hardywood employees and their customers.

During our presentation we followed the journey of Rebecca, a Richmond native going to Hardywood and using the new kiosk to learn more about and purchase their newest beer release, the ‘Sippin’ on Pine, Not Juice’ IPA. Follow along below:

Scan the QR code below if you’d like to try Henry for yourself!


TEAM MEMBERS: Ginny Adamson (XD), Bianca Diclaro (AD), Mark Gozzo (CBM), Rachel Street (CBM)