LAS VEGAS -- Stuzo, a digital product innovation firm, and Bank of America are partnering to bring a smart c-store concept similar to Amazon Go to more convenience retailers.
Michael Roberts, Bank of America Merchant Services’ chief marketing and digital strategy officer, announced the partnership at the Money 20/20 conference in Las Vegas on Oct. 24. Roberts led attendees through a virtual reality (VR) demonstration of Stuzo’s vision of the future for urban convenience stores, known as Urban Convenience 2025.
“The future of the convenience industry is both bright and challenging,” Roberts said. “The coming years will bring tremendous opportunity for disruption as we expect to see an even greater push by consumers for retailers to offer a simpler and more streamlined shopping experience. We expect those businesses that strive to develop and implement innovative shopping experiences will come out on top.”
Bank of America Merchant Services (BAMS) along with Stuzo’s technology and consumer insights will assist retailers in envisioning what their store may look like in the future. This could include exploring touchless payment capabilities or finding other ways to give customers a faster and easier shopping experience leveraging technology.
Stuzo expects the technology envisioned in the VR presentation to be available within the coming decade. C-store operators can contact BAMS or Stuzo for a consultation on existing convenience solutions and what retailers can do today to prepare for tomorrow.
Click through for CSP’s exclusive look at some of the features detailed in Stuzo’s vision of convenience in the years to come …
In a video tied to the announcement, Devin Ehrlich, Stuzo’s digital campaign manager, outlines the primary features of the company’s vision for an almost fully automated c-store in an urban setting. At the core of the concept is a frictionless, or touchless, payment system that does not require cashiers or point-of-sale hardware—similar to the Amazon Go prototype.
“Customers will automatically be charged for products as they exit using a preconfigured payment method,” said Ehrlich. “They’ll then receive a digital receipt for purchase confirmation.”
Stuzo speculates that c-stores in the future will include amenities made possible by automation.
Services including automatic dry cleaning, check cashing, global money transfer and even on-site daycare will become possible when employees can be redirected from running the store to roles that stores relying on human labor alone would have trouble fulfilling.
Though tech-focused, the concept also centers around the idea that healthy, customizable foodservice options will be at least as important in future c-stores as it is today.
Ehrlich described a system in which orders based on a customer's specific preferences could be suggested to them before they even reach the store. Additionally, he imagined a store with smart devices, such as intelligent coffee machines that can incorporate new flavors, or digital menu boards that regularly adjust menus to ensure the most in-demand combinations, for example.
C-store just for you
“Most of all,” said Ehrlich, “the convenience center of the future—through the power of technology—will be tailored to the unique needs of each and every customer.”
Personalized tech and services could include digital displays with personalized offers for each customer based on past shopping history. Instead of presenting an ID to a clerk to purchase cigarettes or alcohol, customers could use touchscreens with biometric identification to confirm they are the required age for the purchase. Even customers picking up orders placed online could receive a personalized, automated experience.
Stuzo is a digital-product-innovation company focused on the convenience-store and fuel-retail industry. Based in Philadelphia with offices in New York City and Europe, it helps organizations humanize technology by designing, defining and delivering digital products that drive business outcomes.
Bank of America Merchant Services delivers payments, commerce and security solutions, as well as consultation services, to businesses in the United States, Canada and Europe. The company processed more than 15.2 billion transactions at approximately 660,000 merchant locations in 2016.