Amazon Go, Zippin Bring Quick And Touchless Model To Arenas
The pandemic brought some venue innovations to life. Others, such as cashierless concessions, were already kicking but gained new relevance in the COVID-19 era.
Cashierless concessions allows customers to swipe a credit card or scan an app on their phone upon entering a store, then grab what they want out and walk out. Cameras, sensors and artificial intelligence technology ID the purchases and charge the total to the chosen payment method.
The concept makes for a quick experience and, given the touchless quality, a safer one in the time of coronavirus.
Several brands have entered the field, starting with convenience stores and expanding from there. Two of them, online retail behemoth Amazon and tech startup Zippin, have pointed themselves toward venues.
San Francisco-based Zippin opened the big leagues’ first checkout free convenience store in October 2019 at Golden 1 Center, home of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings and their tech-embracing owner, Vivek Ranadivé. Zippin has its brand on the 300-square-foot store, which it stocks with drinks, snacks and premade meals working with arena food provider Legends.
“The median time spent in the store was less than a minute and the repeat visit rate is over 54 percent, which is high in an arena setting,” said John Rinehart, Kings president of business operations.
Amazon, which has put Amazon Go shops and groceries in its hometown of Seattle along with New York, Chicago and San Francisco, was ready to enter Chicago’s United Center with a “Just Walk Out” concession stand just as the COVID-19 shutdown descended. Levy handles food at the arena.
The movement seems unlikely to stall: At Staples Center in Los Angeles, AEG officials are determining which vendor to use and the investment required for up to six potential stand conversions, General Manager Lee Zeidman said recently. Oak View Group CEO Tim Leiweke (OVG is also the owner of VenuesNow) has said publicly that he’s a fan of the concept and that it’s under consideration for Climate Pledge Arena, which OVG is set to open next year and where Amazon is a naming rights partner.