A smart cooling experience empowers grocery retailers and enables a resilient cold chain

Industrial & Energy


The Challenge

Imbera is the world’s largest manufacturer of commercial refrigerators, which are used for the transportation and storage of a wide variety of perishable goods like dairy products and beverages. Recently Imbera began to explore how they could provide even more value for grocery retailers through new business, service, and maintenance models. Amid global uncertainty and supply chain disruptions, Imbera sought to better understand the day-to-day challenges facing store owners, and how emerging technology could strengthen the “cold chain” – the temperature-controlled transport of perishable goods to retailers and consumers.

The Opportunity

Refrigeration is one of the largest capital expenses for store owners, and a cooler failure can lead to product spoilage and severe economic consequences for the store. For these reasons, store owners prefer to have as much control and understanding of their cooler systems as possible, and they are extremely sensitive to maintenance issues. Imbera partnered with propelland to develop a new connected experience for store owners that would transform how they interact with, operate, and maintain their coolers.

The Solution

Imbera and propelland developed Negocon, a mobile app that allows store owners to have complete control and understanding of system performance throughout the lifecycle of their cooler systems. A store owner creates a user profile in the app, then quickly adds new stores and cooler assets to that profile. They can then log into the app from anywhere to seamlessly customize and monitor their active cooler assets. The app connects via Bluetooth to each of the Imbera coolers, gathering data about the equipment’s general state and enabling store owners to make quick adjustments to their coolers. For example, at the end of the day they can save time by activating energy saving mode directly in the mobile app, versus manually adjusting each cooler in the store. If problems arise, the store owner can easily navigate maintenance requests and service payments through the app, instead of wasting time on the phone or searching for information online.

The Approach

/ UX Research for Imbera Mexico

propelland conducted user interviews with store owners in México City and surrounding areas to get a deeper understanding of their day-to-day lives and business activities, store management issues, and pain points surrounding the coolers. The research underscored that the stores have different needs depending on their locations and configurations, yet the coolers are not customizable for those needs. For example, one store near a construction zone was always packed with over-heated construction workers looking for cold drinks. Yet the temperature in the drink cooler could not be turned down, forcing the store owner to stock soft drinks in the ice cream freezer to satisfy her customers.

/ Improved Imbera Cooling Services

We uncovered an unmet need for the store owner to be able to control the cooler system with a single, comprehensive tool at their fingertips, and to be able to customize a particular cooler for a specific use case. Additionally, we saw an opportunity for Imbera to improve its maintenance service by focusing on prevention, offering recommendations as well as information on cooling best practices.  Based on our research insights, we designed and prototyped a new end-to-end experience for the store owner centered on the mobile app.


Propelland and Imbera created a smart cooling experience that empowers store owners with a more flexible and intuitive system for maintaining their coolers, enabling them to focus on creating an excellent in-store experience for their customers. At the same time, the Negocon app provides Imbera with ongoing insights about their retailer customers and a more nuanced understanding of their business needs, paving the way for future customer-centric product design and development.