Żabka Group is now the largest chain of autonomous stores in Europe after launching 25 AI-powered stores called Żabka Nano. The concept enables quick shopping without checkout clerks, queues, or cash to sell products precisely matched to location and customer demographics. The stores operate in several formats such as standalone container-based vending machines, traditional brick-and-mortar and store-within-a-store points of sale; each leveraging AI-powered computer vision technology created through close cooperation with American technology company AiFi.
Thanks to the use of the latest technologies, the Żabka Group has become the fastest-growing food chain in Europe with 1100 traditional stores opened in 2021 and over 7,900 traditional modern convenient stores today in general. In partnership with AiFi, Żabka Group created the Żabka Nano autonomous concept and opened the first store in June 2021 in Poznań, then quickly expanded to 25 locations across Poland within six months. Through an integration with the Żappka mobile application, which is already used by over 8 million users, it co-created an ecosystem of digital services for enhanced customer convenience.
“Żabka is the European leader in creating modern convenience solutions that meet the needs of modern customers. We focus on providing unique and highly personalized shopping experiences, connecting the digital world with the environment. We want to redefine the shopping speed. In 2021, we opened 25 autonomous Żabka Nano stores. However, we do not stop there – we will launch about a dozen in the first quarter of this year,” says Tomasz Suchański, CEO of Żabka Group.
Żabka Nano stores are already tested by customers in 25 locations in 6 cities in the country. They can be used by customers in Gdańsk, Kraków, Piaseczno, Poznań, Sopot and Warsaw. They operate in a wide variety of locations, among others: in city centres, railway stations, underground stations, universities or large-format stores.
“We are constantly working to develop and improve the unique concept of Żabka Nano. We focus on its flexibility – we are able to open more autonomous outlets both in highly trafficked locations, such as strict city centres or underground stations, as well as in large-format stores. We are also one of the first in the world to develop a concept that allows you to enter the store using a payment card”, says Tomasz Blicharski, Managing Director of Żabka Future.
Żabka Nano uses innovative methods of authorization and payment for shopping. The first stores were connected to the chain’s mobile app, which allowed both entry and payment for purchases. Currently, the store-within-a-store model allows customers to access the store using any payment card. The shopping itself takes only a moment – the journey invites customers to seamlessly grab products from the shelf and exit the store when ready, no checkout needed. The innovative platform by AiFi used in all stores is a camera-based solution leveraging computer vision and advanced machine learning to recognize products removed from shelves, and automatically finalize the payment when customers exit the store. The system does not use biometrics or facial recognition to identify customers to guarantee full privacy and security.
“The deployment of 25 stores in six months with Żabka demonstrates the customer-centric values of AiFi to understand customer needs and build flexible solutions that scale. We are excited to further strengthen our partnership with Żabka and revolutionize the shopping experience with the rollout of more Żabka Nano stores powered by AiFi”, says Steve Gu, CEO and Co-Founder at AiFi.
Autonomous Żabka stores are launched under Żabka Future Business Incubator, which combines three elements: managing and searching for innovations, transforming them into new products and services and commercializing them.