Zaitt and Carrefour open first fully automated store

Date : 02 April 2019

In partnership with Carrefour, Zaitt has opened a 24-hour convenience store in São Paulo, which is fully autonomous, requiring no cashiers or members of staff. This is in line with Carrefour Brazil’s strategy of partnering with startups and growing its digital capabilities in the country.

Paula Cardoso, CEO of Carrefour eBusiness Brazil, said:

“As we do globally, we will be partnering with companies and startups that bring us new technologies and competencies to accelerate our digital transformation and generate scale for truly innovative services and solutions".

Source: IGD Research

Zaitt’s second store in Brazil benefits from more frictionless technology

This is the second store from Zaitt and opened on Thursday 21 March. Zaitt’s first store opened in December 2017 in Vitória, in the state of Espírito Santo (southeast Brazil).

The new store in São Paulo, however, is the first to use both QR (scan & go) and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID). RFID is much less manual as customers do not need to scan each item, which makes for a more frictionless shopping experience.

How does the technology work?

Customers are required to download the Zaitt app and register their credit/debit card details. Before entering the store via a set of two doors customers decide on their preferred payment method. The first uses scan & go technology, where customers manually scan products’ QR codes and these products are added to a virtual shopping cart.

The second, more innovative approach, sees shoppers enter and pay through facial recognition. When a customer enters through facial recognition Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is used and automatically detects the items a customer has selected using radio signals.

Upon leaving the store, (for both payment methods) a screen displays the products the customer has picked up and once verified by them, payment is debited from their account and the doors open for them to exit.

Source: IGD Research

Source: Zaitt

What is the product offer?

The store has 900 SKUs and the product mix currently consists of predominantly food-for-now options, snacks, drinks (including beer and wine), a small selection of chilled items and personal hygiene items. Customers can also heat products in a microwave for immediate consumption at the store. Zaitt intends to extend this food service offer by adding coffee to go.

Carrefour has been rapidly expanding its Carrefour Express convenience stores over the last two years in São Paulo. Therefore, Carrefour is well-positioned to advise Zaitt on getting the product mix right, albeit on a smaller footprint.

Source: IGD Research

Source: IGD Research

Prime location

The São Paulo store is located on a high footfall parade of shops in the busy, upscale neighbourhood of Itaim Bibi. The area is known for its high-rise business head-offices, modern restaurants and luxury shopping malls. Zaitt’s on-the-move proposition is likely to be popular in this area due to the high frequency of both workers (in the day) and people visiting bars/restaurants in the evening.

Source: IGD Research

Partnership with Carrefour

The Zaitt store in Vitoria was the first store in the Americas to use QR pay and go technology. The partnership with Carrefour is a good example of the retailer’s strategy to partner with start-ups using innovative technologies. For now, Zaitt is only partnering with Carrefour at this store, but its success could lead to further expansion.

It is also likely that other businesses will want to adopt the technology being used at Zaitt, which would help the Zaitt business to grow.

Further expansion for Zaitt?

Zaitt intends to open a second store in São Paulo in the coming months. The Itaim Bibi store has been very popular with customers in its opening weeks, surpassing Zaitt’s expectations. If the store continues to perform well Carrefour may potentially partner with Zaitt on a bigger scale.

Zaitt’s small footprint (70 sq. m) makes it easier to find vacant units. The on-the-move proposition is more suited to metropolitan areas, so São Paulo is an obvious choice to continue to expand in the short to mid-term.

The success of last-mile delivery app’s such as Rappi in Brazil, with whom Carrefour has announced a new partnership, indicates there is a strong appetite for customers utilising smart phone technology, particularly if it makes things quicker and/or easier for them.

Oliver Butterworth

Oliver Butterworth

Retail Analyst - Latin America

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