Lagardère Travel Retail has launched the first autonomous convenience store at Hong Kong International Airport.
The 88 sqm Travelwell store utilises an artificial intelligence (AI) system and computer vision technology to streamline the shopping process in the brick-and-mortar store, giving passengers a ‘grab-and-go’ retail experience, without the need to ring through their purchases at the checkout.
It stocks a handy range of pre-flight necessities, including a wide range of packaged food, ready-to-eats, drinks, travel essentials and local souvenirs to browse and buy before boarding.
“We are grateful to have benefitted from the support of the Airport Authority Hong Kong and of business partners to pioneer this technology-led, innovative new store,” said Séverine Lanthier, Asia Chief Operating Officer & Group Chief Strategy and Development Officer at Lagardère Travel Retail.
“I hope the new shopping experience will appeal to travellers and become a memorable part of their journey. This project represents a key milestone in our ambitious roadmap to innovate to elevate the traveller shopping experience.”
The AI system draws upon various types of algorithms to track the movement of the products, as well as the gestures of the customers, to ensure shoplifting is ‘impossible’ and purchases are ‘accurate’, says the retailer.
Customers enter the store by tapping a credit card on, or inserting it into, the payment terminal.
After they finish shopping, they can simply leave the store with the items they have selected. Their credit card will be charged for the items purchased.
Customers can print their receipts at the printers located next to the exit gate.
To help shoppers get to grips with the process, illustrations depicting the shopping procedure are on display inside the store and on its exterior.
Plus, a member of staff is on hand to answer questions and provide guidance, if needed.
The store is located near gate 24, at the entrance of Sky Bridge (the world’s longest airside bridge, which connects the airport’s Terminal 1 and Satellite Concourse). Its futuristic design is said to complement the panoramic view of the airport.
Lagardère Travel Retail first came up with the idea for the hi-tech concept store in 2019 as part of development plan to HKIA, in line with its vision that cashier-less shopping would be the next big trend in the retail industry.
Observing consumer behaviour during the pandemic, and the ‘new norms’ that have emerged (such as completing daily routines with minimal human interactions and contactless payment methods becoming more common) has ‘reinforced the demand for an autonomous shop’ and a ‘new kind of shopping experience’ in the channel, says Lagardère.