Żabka launches 25 AI-powered stores in Poland

  • January 18, 2022
  • Steve Rogerson

Polish firm Żabka says it is now the largest chain of autonomous stores in Europe after launching 25 AI-powered stores.

The Żabka Nano 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 shipping container-inspired stores, 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 7900 traditional modern convenient stores today. At the same time, it is developing autonomous shopping experiences to improve customer convenience and store operations.

In partnership with AiFi, Żabka Group created the Żabka Nano autonomous concept and opened the first store in June 2021 in Poznań, then expanded to 25 locations across Poland within six months. Through an integration with the Żappka mobile application, which is already used by over eight 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,” said Tomasz Suchański, CEO of Żabka Group. “We focus on providing unique and highly personalised 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.”

Żabka Nano stores have been tested by shoppers in 25 locations in six cities in Poland. They can be used by customers in Gdańsk, Krakow, Piaseczno, Poznań, Sopot and Warsaw. They operate in a wide variety of locations, such as city centres, railway stations, underground stations, universities and large-format stores.

“We are constantly working to develop and improve the unique concept of Żabka Nano,” said Tomasz Blicharski, managing director of Żabka Future. “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.”

Several thousand people have already experienced the convenience of shopping in the autonomous Żabka Nano stores.

Żabka Nano uses innovative methods of authorisation 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 grab products from the shelf and exit the store when ready, no checkout needed.

The AiFi platform used in all stores is camera based, leveraging computer vision and machine learning to recognise products removed from shelves, and automatically finalise the payment when customers exit the store. The system does not use biometrics or facial recognition to identify customers to guarantee 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,” said Steve Gu, CEO of AiFi. “We are excited to further strengthen our partnership with Żabka and revolutionise the shopping experience with the rollout of more Żabka Nano stores powered by AiFi.”

The product mix in Żabka Nano stores is tailored to the location and customer profile. Depending on the format, it covers from 450 up to 1500 products. In each Żabka Nano store are products of Żabka private label products, including nutritious and healthy snacks, juices and smoothies, ready meals and freshly ground coffee from a coffee machine.