Shop around the Clock
EXPERIMENTS FOR THE FUTURE
It’s monday, 4 o’clock in the morning. The Algebra exam is in three days’ time and students are burning the midnight oil at Nova School of Business & Economics (Nova SBE) in Cascais Municipality (in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area). Then, a problem crops up, one whose urgency takes precedence over everything else: hunger pangs begin to take hold and energy must be quickly restored. The solution is right there, on the lower floor: a machine which, like the university, never sleeps. The magic letters that make up the formula are written in neon green: “Go 24/7”. Inside the window, you’ll find plenty of different types of juices, sandwiches, chocolate, nuts and even cappuccino, from a range of around 30 products. The glass doors are opened using a code from the Pingo Doce & Go Nova app. Then, all you have to do is take out your products, close the doors and enjoy your snack. Computer vision does all the rest.
By then, your mobile phone has already received a notification saying how much you spent in your purchase, and how much was charged to your credit card. A few hours later, around 7:30 am, the silence will give way to the hustle and bustle before the first classes of the day. Breakfast on campus, mid-morning snacks, a ready-to-eat meal for lunch. The kind of meals that fit in short breaks. Fortunately, next to Go 24/7, the Pingo Doce Lab Store makes the time seem longer. There are no queues or checkout operators.
Just open the app, take your products from the shelves and add them to your virtual shopping basket by tapping or scanning. The only thing it takes is putting your smartphone near the electronic labels or the barcodes. Once you’ve finalised your purchase, you can close it in the app and leave the store by swipping the QR code to open the gate. This project was made with cutting edge Portuguese technology. It was designed by Jerónimo Martins after Nova SBE challenged the Group to open a commercial outlet inside the campus, in line with its visionary spirit.
AN ONGOING LAB
The designing began with a comprehensive analysis of the school community’s needs. Mapping students’ consuming habits was fundamental in the definition of assortment, so the study also included student visits to their friends’ houses to see what they had in the fridge. In terms of what they would like to have available on campus, the fact that many mentioned fresh fruit, for example, led to a larger investment in diced fruit and individual pieces of fruit, the latter being a differentiating element in the country’s food retail sector. The increasing demand for organic and wholegrain solutions were also taken into account, as well as dietary restrictions. The store offers a variety of lactose-free and gluten-free products.
The fast pace of the students’ routine makes takeaway food increasingly necessary. There is a ready-to-eat area with a wide range of options, such as salads, sushi, soup, pasta and duck rice. And a wood-burning oven where, for 50 cents, customers can heat their pizza up. And there’s a self-service coffee machine too. The analytics system will make it possible to adapt the products on offer over time, as consumer preferences are identified. Isabel Ferreira Pinto, CEO of Pingo Doce, highlights that the Group wanted to “create a very different shopping experience, one that would bring real comfort and convenience to the academic community, and also to the area around the university.” This lab store “will make it possible to observe, study and learn about new consumer trends and new ways of shopping”. With an area of around 250 m2, the space will be open from 7:30 am to 9 pm from Monday to Saturday.
Another extremely important point is the concern with privacy. To use either the store or the Go 24/7 machine, customers need to provide their phone number and associate a payment method to their account. The system that makes them both work knows who it is, but neither the store nor the machine use facial recognition. Payment can also be made at the self-checkouts using a debit or credit card, as the store is cashless.