Self-checkout retail expands to NFL venues


SCAN GO: The early returns were positive for the newest retail space tied to mobile technology at Arrowhead Stadium, home of the Kansas City Chiefs. (Courtesy Aramark)

The NFL’s first self-checkout retail store at Arrowhead Stadium did everything it was supposed to do — increase speed of service and generate higher sales volume, said Tim Witkowski, district manager for Aramark, the Kansas City Chiefs’ merchandise provider.

Chiefs Mobile Self-Shop, a small retail store on the club level near Section 209, debuted for Kansas City’s Sept. 15 regular season home opener against San Diego, a Thursday Night Football contest. That merchandise location was selected due to consumer buying habits and the likelihood for those premium seat patrons to adopt mobile payment, Witkowski said.

“It’s about speed and efficiency; it’s easy,” he said. “The average time a person spent in the store was four minutes with the fastest being two minutes from scanning their (item’s) QR code to payment.”

Branded as “Scan N Go,” the technology produced higher per caps, but Witkowski said he could not provide numbers. Aramark typically sells less merchandise for night games at Arrowhead due to lengthy tailgating outside the stadium and the tendency for fans to head straight to the parking lots at 11 pm Central Time after a 7 pm kickoff.

“We expected a lower number, but was still a great number,” he said.

Aramark partnered with the Chiefs and multiple tech vendors to beta test the self-checkout system, including Tapin2, the concessionaire’s partner, and Tappit, the developer of the team’s mobile application and ChiefsPay mobile payment. Fanmaker and YinzCam are also part of the integration.

For Aramark, the cost was minimal, although Witkowski said he did not know the size of the investment. Tapin2 kept the expense minimal for the concessionaire to implement the system.

The Scan N Go platform is powered by QR codes.

To activate the system, customers open the photo application on their cell phone to scan a QR code posted on a wall at the store entrance, which in turn, pops open the individual’s “personal cash register.” From there, they scan the QR code attached to any retail item, which is transferred to their digital shopping cart. Upon checkout, the customer pays for the items through ApplePay, ChiefsPay or a regular credit card. At that point, the validation QR code appears, which is scanned by an Aramark employee, confirming the checkout.

The early data shows that 20% of sales came from season-ticket holders, a key number for Aramark with Scan N Go seamlessly applying the 15% discount they receive when buying merchandise. Under the old format, season-ticket holders had to go through the additional step of getting a bar code scanned as part of their Chiefs Kingdom Rewards/ChiefsPay membership.

“This does it all at one time, so it’s a quicker transaction,” Witkowski said.

“We got a lot of feedback and the younger guests loved it for not having to wait in line,” he said. “You don’t need to rush to shop, get in line and back to your seat. You’re in control and go as fast or as slow as you want, knowing you have the power of the checkout ability in your hands. It’s not a huge location, so even when we had 10 to 15 people there, it was very fast.”

Aramark officials plan to continue testing Scan N Go retail through midseason before analyzing the results to see whether they want to expand the system at Arrowhead.

Elsewhere, Aramark plans to test self-checkout retail for the coming NBA season at AT&T Center, home of the San Antonio Spurs, where the company runs merchandise.

There are self-checkout merchandise stands at Barclays Center and Polar Park, a minor league baseball facility in Worcester, Mass., but in general, there aren’t a whole lot of retail spaces at sports venues using that method of frictionless technology. But it’s coming, according to Witkowski.

“It’s on its way,” he said. “When organizations look at what produces the most transactions, serving 70,000 in concessions comes first, along with volume and investment. We’re constantly looking for innovation across food, beverage and retail and a frictionless experience. When our design team and Tapin2 came up with Scan N Go retail, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.”

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