Convenience: the latest technology

Date : 26 February 2021

Charles Chan

Senior Retail Analyst

Earlier this year, we outlined five global trends that will shape the convenience channel this year and beyond. Below are some case studies to show how convenience retail and technology are connecting further.

Edeka opens automated store in Germany

Edeka has opened a 24/7 automated convenience store at Renningens train station. ‘E 24/7 Karow & Sommer’ stocks 300 SKUs items and will gradually be expanded to up to 800 items. Freshly brewed coffee specialties, bakery and basic groceries are available. The store format also focuses on providing a selection of specialties from the region, e.g. Siegel baked goods from Stuttgart.

Customers can pre-order using an app or a touchscreen in the store. The products are then picked in the rear area by robotics and made available at an output for collection. Payment is made by bank card or online using the app. The new format is the first of its kind (at a train station) in Germany and has been launched in cooperation with the Stuttgart startup Smark and with Deutsche Bahn. Together, they are looking at further locations for expansion in the south-west of Germany.

Source: Edeka

Improved services and frictionless retail in Japan

For the first time, people in Japan can order medicine online from a convenience store (Lawson) and get it delivered to their homes. Customers can choose from 49 types of second-class and third-class drugs that do not require prescriptions, e.g. cold remedies and eye drops. Orders are placed on Uber Eats and processed by certified store clerks. Since 2009, Lawson has been building partnerships with dispensing pharmacy and drugstore chains. It partners Uber Eats (since August 2019) and foodpanda (since November 2020) to offer delivery from more than 1,500 stores.

Source: IGD Research

Fujitsu and Zippin’s latest solution to enable contact-free shopping is multi-factor, combining two different forms of biometric authentication, facial verification (even when users are wearing masks) and palm recognition (without touching the surface). The technology is being tested at a cashless Lawson convenience store at the Fujitsu Technology Square office in Shin-Kawasaki, Japan. It is also available at Green Leaves + convenience store inside Yokohama Techno Tower Hotel. 

FamilyMart Japan is improving its mobile app. The retailer has launched ‘FamiPay next month payment’, allowing users to pay later even when the balance is insufficient. In October last year, FamiPay payment became available at stores other than FamilyMart, e.g. drugstores and restaurants by supporting the payment service ‘SmartCode’. While in December last year, utility bills and other payments were made available on FamiPay. The retailer will also launch ‘FamiPay loan’ later this year. In order to use both services, identity verification and bank account registration are required. FamiPay app was first launched in July 2019. It has been downloaded by 8m people and has 4.5m active daily users.

New payment methods in the U.S

7-Eleven has launched voice ordering within its 7NOW Delivery app. Customers can open the 7NOW app by saying "Hey, Alexa! / OK, Google! Open 7NOW" and similarly place goods into their virtual baskets by using voice commands. After payment, the order is delivered to customers within 30 minutes.

E-ZPass (an electronic toll collection system) is testing PaybyCar technology. It allows residents in North Carolina who have an NC Quick Pass make contact-free payment for fuel in participating Circle K and Alltown convenience stores without using a credit card at the pump. The purchases get charged directly to the customer’s payment card used when enrolling, and do not get applied to their toll account.

EG Group has partnered PDI as its payment provider for around 1,700 sites across North America. Customers can download the free app and make contactless payments in-store or at the pump via PDI Payments.

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