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12/01/2021

Airport convenience store launches AI-based automated checkout

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Camden Food Express
Camden Food Express is offering frictionless shopping at JFK Airport.

Camden Food Express in New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport is enabling contactless shopping.

The convenience store retailer, operated by SSP America and located at Gate 32B in Terminal 4 of John F. Kennedy International Airport, is partnering with Terminal 4 operator JFKIAT and checkout-free technology provider Zippin to roll out an artificial intelligence (AI)-based, frictionless shopping experience.

Customers enter the store, which offers a “grab and go” assortment of food and beverage items, through a turnstile, tapping their credit card as they enter. Shoppers can then begin picking items off shelves. As they do, Zippin’s AI system automatically identifies the items and builds the customer’s virtual cart with the corresponding monetary value. When the customer leaves the store, the total amount spent is automatically charged to the card the customer used to check in at the store entrance.

Other airport retailers have also been introducing frictionless shopping options. Hudson, a leading travel retailer with more than 1,000 stores in airports, commuter hubs and tourist destinations across North America, has entered into an agreement to use Amazon’s Just Walk Out platform in select travel convenience stores.  The first location to implement the technology —a new concept called Hudson Nonstop — opened in the first quarter of 2021, at Dallas Love Field Airport, with additional roll-outs planned at North American stores later in the year. 

Hudson is following in the footsteps of airport convenience store chain Cibo Express Gourmet Markets, which began rolling out the Amazon technology at select stores in March 2020.

“We are thrilled that JFK T4 has become the first airport location to feature Zippin’s innovative retail concept,” said Roel Huinink, president and CEO of JFKIAT. “We have continued to innovate T4’s offerings in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and enabling a more contactless customer journey is critical to our mission to provide customers with a safe, seamless experience. This partnership with SSP America and Zippin, launching just as we enter the holiday travel season, is our latest initiative to enable a fully digital purchasing process at T4.”

"Zippin is honored to be partnered with JFKIAT and SSP America to bring our checkout-free technology to the millions of passengers traveling through JFK International Airport," said Gary Jacobus, senior VP of business development for Zippin. “Consumers have come to expect frictionless, technology driven experiences that make eating on-the-go easy, enjoyable and fast. Zippin allows guests to get in, take what they want and leave within seconds rather than minutes, so they are able to get on with their trip."

“As the food travel experts, SSP America is excited to see Zippin deployed to ensure passengers have a speedy, contactless option while traveling through JFK’s Terminal 4,” said Michael Svagdis, CEO of SSP America. “The SSP America team is passionate about bringing authentic restaurants to airports. Implementing innovative technology to provide a range of shopping solutions is an important part our commitment to our customers and clients. As always, we are so pleased to be part of the JFKIAT team and look forward to continued collaboration as we work to deliver a world-class passenger experience at T4.”