Żappka Store – a breath of futurism in Polish retail
Żabka is a serious player on the scene of Polish entrepreneurs. Due to the growth and scale of the business it is running it is slowly going beyond the confines of our country. In one of the largest Polish retailers, an important role is played by the Future component, which is responsible for innovation. Żappka Stores – autonomy and security – about which Paweł Grabowski told us.
Żabka is a chain of small stores that are categorized as convenience. This means that they are fast-food stores with a small assortment, which are intended to meet the immediate needs of customers passing by. Żabka is the biggest competition for the housing estate stores, which are more and more often transformed under its banner. As we can read on the ¯abka website, over the 24 years of its presence on the Polish market, the company has established itself as a leader in the modern convenience segment. The idea behind the chain’s operations is proximity and convenience for customers who, besides shopping, can withdraw money, send parcels, pay bills, top up the phone or have a hot meal paid for with ¯apps, i.e. points within the store’s loyalty program.
Żabka equals 6.7 thousand franchisees that own 8 thousand stores. This is the reason for having almost 16 million customers, and thanks to this the chain has the status of the largest of its kind in the whole of Central and Eastern Europe.
Żabka is not only about grocery stores but also about innovations in this field. The development area that brings together the team responsible for finding and creating and developing business is a department called Żabka Future. Tomasz Blicharski leads a team of people who create technological and system tools for the future of stores with amphibian in their names.
The Future Team is responsible for the concept of unmanned stores called Żappka Store. Shopping in this store is supposed to be very simple. Ultimately, the customer enters the store, takes items from the shelf and leaves, and the whole process takes place in a space beyond his or her sight and real involvement. All you need is a smartphone with the żappka application installed and Żappka Pay on board.
– What could be better than walking into a store and picking up a product from the shelf?? We’ve reached the point now where the artificial intelligence we have and the camera system can tell us what happened in that store while you were there. In my opinion, we have reached a point where we maximize the ease of purchase, we make the shopping last literally seconds, and knowing our customers, they can walk through the entire store and do the shopping in seconds – explains Paweł Grabowski. – The very fact that these are autonomous, unmanned stores allows us to make them available to customers 24 hours a day. Żappka Store is open 24/7 – adds.
Żabka stores are equipped with a system of cameras which monitor the location of each product.
Before entering the store, the application generates a one-time QR code assigned to the point, which must be scanned on the reader at the door. Scanning the code will automatically open the door. At the same moment, the system, through a sequence of algorithms, checks what the person has taken from the assortment, and the moment the person leaves the store, all the missing goods are added to the bill. When a customer leaves the store, it is also a signal for the system to associate the transaction with a given user and through Żabka’s digital wallet the payment is downloaded from the connected payment card. Żabka assures that the system does not identify customers and does not store images, which guarantees full privacy and security.
– We can’t manage without an app because we don’t scan the QR code, but we will be implementing bank card entry, which by the time you listen to this podcast should already be available to you. Our customers natively have our app. Several million Poles have our app and in the segment where Zappka Store operates it is natural to have apps, but we are expanding the possibility of entering our stores not only through apps. We want the customers to be able to put the card to the reader and this door will also open for them and this store will be available for them – declares a guest on the Mobile Trends Podcast.
Intelligence in the grocery store?
The Zappka Store uses the innovative AiFi OASIS platform, a camera system that uses artificial intelligence. Żabka got interested in our solution for unmanned stores, because it wanted to create a convenient shopping experience for its customers. The implemented solution is the future of retail and we are already looking forward to introducing this technology in other locations throughout Poland, in partnership with Żabka – says Steve Gu, co-founder and CEO of AiFi.
– The autonomous format is an innovation when it comes to stores similar to autonomous car stores because the store itself knows what’s in it and can answer by itself what kind of shopping you did […] The store doesn’t know who you are, our billing system knows that because we try to maintain complete anonymity, so the moment you pay the bill it will link you together with that person who came in. The store sees you as an anonymized avatar, who enters the store and is fully aware of what and where in the store and is able to recognize which product you took, which you put away if you don’t like it, or which product you drank or ate and threw in the trash.At this moment the system responsible for the autonomy of this store is working at full speed recognizing your every move – explains the guest.
Żappka Store was created as part of the Żabka Future business incubator, which means managing innovations by turning them into new products that can be easily commercialized. According to the authorities of Żabka, the project perfectly fits into the strategy of activities aimed at maintaining climate neutrality – Żappka Store uses only the equivalent of green energy for its operations.
More about autonomous stores and the technology behind them can be found in the podcast: How to create a modern unmanned store – Paweł Grabowski (Żabka Future)