There’s nothing worse than being in an airport terminal, and it’s become a particular level of hell in the days of COVID. With unexpected delays at an all-time high and masks no longer required for travelers, the usual turmoil of just moving around DFW International Airport, the second-busiest airport by passenger traffic in the world, has become incredibly stressful for many fliers.
Over the summer, Zippin installed its checkout-free technology in Fort Worth Magazine, a 1,400-square-foot store in Terminal C — only the third airport store in the world (the others are at JFK in New York and Tom Jobim International Airport in Rio de Janeiro). It allows customers to purchase over 900 products and leave the store when they’re done. No checkout lines. Shoppers only need to scan an app or their credit card before they enter the store. AI software compiles information using overhead cameras and shelf sensors to track purchases and charge your form of payment directly.
“Obviously, this is really a game changer for pretty much every retailer, but it’s more so in airports and stadiums anywhere else, because shoppers are pressed for time,” Zippin CEO Krishna Motukuri tells Eater Dallas. “Our design and philosophy is to reduce or eliminate friction completely.” Hence, frictionless shopping.
Among those products are bottled waters and other beverages, snacks, over-the-counter medicines, tech odds and ends, souvenirs, and more.
Motukuri explains that Zippin targets airports, sporting events, and entertainment venues for these frictionless checkout stores due to the high density of potential customers in a rush. “Airports are hubs for people from different cultural backgrounds,” he says. “Almost everybody has to fly and, more often than not, they don’t understand the cultural norms of shopping in a country...I grew up in India, it wasn’t that common for us to pick up the products, walk up to a counter or cashier, and ask them to scan. We wanted something that’s natural for airports.”
And it’s not just shoppers who benefit, Motukuri says. Frictionless shopping is much more pleasant for employees when customers aren’t forced to interact with them. “It turns out that customers ... actually walk up to the employees and chat, they want to know how this works. Now, it’s a much more pleasant conversation for employees.”