In the early stages of the pandemic, digital technologies offered an alternative to in-person events, but with the return of live entertainment, many businesses are now figuring out how to use technology to support the on-site experience. When it comes to venues, many are using digital payment technologies to speed up the concessions purchasing process, reducing the amount of time consumers spend away from their seats.
MLB announced Wednesday (April 13) that the Houston Astros are working with Amazon to offer Just Walk Out cashier-less checkout at two concessions stores in Minute Maid Park, the team’s stadium.
“We wanted to provide this state-of-the-art technology to our fans, giving them a more streamlined and convenient shopping experience so they can spend more time enjoying baseball,” Marcel Braithwaite, senior vice president of business operations for the Astros, said in a statement.
As with other Just Walk Out-enabled stores, consumers scan their credit cards when they enter the store, and items they exit with are automatically charged when they leave the store.
“Our technology is designed to deliver a fast and frictionless shopping experience, so we’re thrilled to help eliminate checkout lines for fans when they need to refuel during games and between innings,” Dilip Kumar, vice president of physical retail and technology at Amazon, said in a statement.
The news comes at a time when, with the return of baseball season, many teams are looking for ways to offer tech-enabled purchasing options that improve the payment experience. This can take the form of scan-and-go systems, in-seat delivery and more.
Moreover, this is not the first time that frictionless checkout has come to a sporting stadium. For instance, at the end of last year, NFL team the Detroit Lions, in partnership with restaurant and hospitality company Levy, telecommunications company Verizon and retail artificial intelligence (AI) solutions provider AiFi, opened a frictionless checkout food and beverage shop at itsFord Field stadium.
“I think it helps a lot of different pain points,” Sandeep Satish, head of Levy and E15’s sports and entertainment analytics practice, told PYMNTS in a January interview. “First and foremost is speed of service — we know that our guests want to get back to their seats to watch the game, the concert or the convention that they’re at, and it’s really important for us to figure out how can we do that that’s not the traditional concession stand model.”
As consumers increasingly turn to self-service channels, cashier-less checkout takes the benefits these options provide and maximizes them.
Research from PYMNTS’ September study “Today’s Self-Service Shopping Journey: The New Retail Expectation,” created in collaboration with Toshiba, found that the top reason consumers opt for self-checkout is that they are looking for a quicker purchasing experience. Additionally, the second most popular reason is that they do not want to wait in line.