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03/02/2022

Houston stadium opens checkout-free stores

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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NRG Stadium
Frictionless shopping has come to NRG Stadium in Houston.

Customers at Houston’s NRG Stadium now have two options for frictionless shopping.

Aramark, the venue’s exclusive food and beverage provider, has opened the second store featuring Zippin checkout-free technology. Two Ice House Express locations in two different first-level sections of the stadium enable shoppers to tap a credit card to enter a store and then select the items they want.

Zippin’s artificial intelligence (AI) software automatically identifies the items, using overhead cameras and sensors, and adds them to a virtual shopping cart. The consumer can put the items in their pocket, bag, purse, or simply carry them out. No checkout is required. When they exit, the purchases are automatically charged and a receipt is available online. 

At the Denver Broncos home stadium, Empower Field at Mile High, there are a total of nine Zippin-powered stores. Analysis indicates that the average transaction time has declined from just more than two minutes to 37 seconds, with 30% of transactions at 15 seconds or less. There has also been an overall increase in sales per game, and a 42% increase in transactions during peak concessions sales periods.

Camden Food Express in New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport is also enabling contactless shopping with Zippin technology. The convenience store retailer, operated by SSP America and located at Gate 32B in Terminal 4 of John F. Kennedy International Airport, is partnering with Terminal 4 operator JFKIAT and checkout-free technology provider Zippin to roll out an artificial intelligence (AI)-based, frictionless shopping experience.

In addition, other sports arenas and entertainment venues are also deploying contactless shopping at stores within their confines. Amazon, a pioneer of autonomous shopping with its Amazon Go store model in January 2018, offers its leading-edge contactless shopping and payment options at the recently opened Climate Pledge Area in Seattle. Frictionless shopping options at select food and beverage stores within the arena include Just Walk Out, as well as  Amazon One palm-based payment.

And the Worcester Red Sox minor league baseball team recently partnered with retail computer vision platform provider Standard AI to retrofit the “WooSox” market store located near centerfield in its Polar Park stadium in Worcester, Mass. The store leverages artificial intelligence (AI)-powered cameras and the cloud to provide a fully autonomous shopping experience.

“Partnering with Zippin has given us the opportunity to provide a best-in-class customer experience, while expanding the number of products on sale and increasing the amount of people we’re able to serve,” said Alicia Woznicki, VP, Design & Development, Aramark Sports and Entertainment. “The speed and accuracy of checkout-free stores allow attendees to quickly get a refreshment or snack and return to the fun of the game, concert or activity they are there to enjoy.”

“Zippin is excited to work with Aramark to bring checkout-free technology to the millions of visitors NRG sees annually,” said Gary Jacobus, Senior Vice President of Business Development for Zippin. “The next three weeks contain some of the most exciting moments of the year at NRG Stadium, attracting passionate fans to the world’s largest livestock show and rodeo. Zippin allows Rodeo-goers to get what they need in seconds, experiencing the frictionless-shopping they want so they can get back to the action.”