Aramark and Denver Broncos Work With Zippin To Enhance The Fan Experience
By Alice Chan - November 19, 2020
In September 2019, well before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the Denver Broncos announced a new three-year vision with its partner, Aramark, to enhance and elevate Empower Field at Mile High’s concession stands with new point of sale technology. The goal was to provide significantly improved customer experiences for the 77,000 fans who regularly packed the Denver Broncos’ stadium. Earlier this year, Zippin was chosen by Aramark to be one of a select few technology innovators for the stadium, specifically for its ability to provide efficient, frictionless shopping experiences.
However, with the onset of COVID-19 disrupting every aspect of stadium operations throughout the sports world, Zippin’s frictionless shopping and checkout-free technology has proved to offer some additional surprising benefits - for venue and sports fans alike - that will endure beyond the pandemic.
Today, November 17, 2020, Zippin CEO Krishna Motukuri was honored to be a featured speaker at the SportTechie Pro Day conference on Reopening Sports Venues. Krishna was part of a panel with Jay Roberts, General Manager of Empower Field at Mile High, and Alison Birdwell, President, Sports & Entertainment of Aramark, entitled: Innovative Customer Service Solutions in the New Normal.
The wide-ranging discussion explored how Roberts and Birdwell were planning to respond to fan requests for quicker service and a wider range of products, including local beers, before the pandemic, and how those plans were impacted in 2020. Here are a few of the key insights from the SportTechie panel discussion.
1. Frictionless Shopping: More Than Just Efficiency
On any given game day, the fans at Empower Field at Mile High all tend to want to buy their concessions at the same time: halftime. The Broncos and Aramark wanted to find a better way to accommodate their fans and reduce wait times, improving efficiency for the fan experience and also improving their product selection.
Jay Roberts, General Manager for Empower Field at Mile High, said that frictionless shopping is helping the Broncos to not only shorten the lines and improve efficiency, but expand its concession product options as well. “With some of these new items, not only could we add quality and add options for fans, but we could speed the service up,” Roberts said.
When COVID-19 hit, the Denver Broncos and their Aramark partners realized that some of the same frictionless shopping technologies and processes that they were already investing in for efficiency would also be useful for the new heightened priorities of the pandemic: worker and public health and safety.
“We were unwittingly visionaries toward this COVID effort, when we joined the Broncos team last season, because we started in 2019 with a 3-year vision to change the paradigms,” said Alison Birdwell, President, Sports & Entertainment.
Roberts pointed out that Zippin’s technology also helps control how many people are allowed into the retail space at once, with built-in metering capabilities. This works well for the COVID-era requirements of social distancing, reducing crowding and congestion points.
2. Better Product Quality and Variety
Frictionless shopping technology also helps retailers get real-time insights about inventory and customer demand. Empower Field at Mile High and Aramark realized that Zippin’s technology could help improve the stadium’s selection and variety of products, especially beverages, not least because of its ability to handle numerous SKUs.
“We have a better understanding of what’s being sold when, and what the fan favorites are in real-time,” said Alison Birdwell from Aramark. “The technology has given us the data to show us how to have the right amount of whatever item it is. If everyone is buying a certain type of beer at halftime, we see it on our phones in real time. It lets us be more nimble in re-stocking, turn people more efficiently, and expand the scope. We have several beverage markets with hundreds of SKUs. We’ve learned the right mix of products.”
3. Building to a “Better Normal”
Even though the Broncos and Aramark were already investing in new point of sale technology and an upgraded customer experience before the pandemic, COVID-19 has accelerated the trends toward frictionless shopping. Krishna Motukuri noted this, saying, “with COVID, we realized that the contactless nature of our solution played to our advantage.”
There were a few features of Zippin technology that are beneficial in the current pandemic challenges, such as helping to keep employees safe by reducing interactions between them and the fans, and helping alert the stadium staff when stock is running down so they can restock shelves, but also help them pick the optimal time to do it - when the store is not as crowded. Even after the pandemic, sports venues and retailers will want to align their staffing levels, reduce customer waiting times, and manage their inventory more efficiently with real-time insights.
“Zippin is the way of the future, and not just in the stadium environment, but in any environment where you have a large crowd that needs to be serviced quickly,” said Alison Birdwell, President of Aramark. “I’m very very excited about the work we’ve done with Zippin and the Broncos to this point and we look forward to working with both of them to expand it from here.”
Just as the Broncos are going to continue investing in better sanitation and air quality, frictionless shopping is going to be a bigger part of the stadium’s future beyond the pandemic.
“In terms of going cashless and cashierless, COVID has put a booster rocket under what we were already doing,” said Jay Roberts, General Manager for Empower Field at Mile High, wrapping up the panel.