A partnership between technology company, Zippin, Visa, Russian bank, Sberbank, and retailer Azbuka Vkusa has led to the launch of the country’s first checkout free store-in-store. The concept, named Zippin Cube, is similar to the just walk-out concept of Amazon Go in the US, but with a significantly smaller sales area. It was set up in an Azbuka Vkusa store in Moscow.
The Zippin Cube
The concept is a turnkey solution for small format stores, which makes it quick to install and instantly ready to use. It is designed to fit into any space as a standalone store or as a store-in-store concept. For the store-in-store concept, retailers have two set-up options: one as a cube with its own dedicated space in a store, or, secondly, in an aisle through the conversion of the space through additional building work.
Much like Amazon Go, shoppers have to pre-register and install an app to enter the store and to make purchases. Shoppers must download the app, register on it, and link the account to a Visa card. Receipts will be sent directly to an email address linked to the account. Once the initial set up is completed shoppers are provided with a QR code to scan and enter the store.
The cube is equipped with computer vision technology, a surveillance system. It monitors when goods are picked up by a shopper, which is then added to a virtual basket, or is removed when it is put back on the shelf.
Higher cost than vending machines and self-service checkouts
Equipment for the Zippin Cube costs RUB500,000 (US$7,000) for a store with space of around 30 sq. m. This makes it significantly cheaper than the capital expenditure that went into Amazon Go stores. However, with even lower cost technology and concepts available for retailers, Zippin may struggle to justify the higher price tag.
Self-service checkouts and vending machines
Self-service machines can be a lower capital expenditure solution for a retailer, although they can incur higher operational costs, in the form of staff to monitor and maintain the machines.
Another option is Vkusvill’s Micro markets, which are almost like a vending machine, but instead offers shoppers a selection of fresh food-to-go, which can be replenished throughout the day. It does not require staff to constantly operate the unit, but it uses technology to monitor on-shelf availability and reduce the risk of theft.
There is demand for checkout free concepts in Russia
Stores without cash desks are of interest to Russian shoppers, who are increasingly looking for convenient shopping concepts. This is due to the mix of busy lifestyles in the main Russian cities, and the distances required to travel to a store in a megacity like Moscow. In the context of the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), such a store concept would serve the changing needs of the grocery retail market.
Subscribers wanting to find out more about developments in Russia’s grocery retail market can look here.