Changing Urban Centers, Remote Working Policies, Create More Opportunities for Checkout-Free Retail In The Suburbs

By Alice Chan - March 08, 2022

Back in 2018 when we opened San Francisco’s first checkout-free store, city business districts were vibrant, buzzing places. Workers would flow into cities in the morning, crowding the streets at noon in search of lunch, and it seemed logical that checkout-free stores were much needed to increase throughput, and give people precious time back in their day. Fast forward to 2022, and it’s very clear that the pandemic has created a big shift in the landscape.

Studies show that between 14 - 23 million of U.S. households intend to move - in many cases out of major cities and into less expensive housing markets. The data also shows that this emerging migration pattern is the result of growing acceptance of remote work amid the pandemic. As a result, urban business centers as we knew them pre-pandemic, have changed. As the COVID-19 eases, and many employers offer hybrid working arrangements with employees working from home and occasionally visiting the office, the big lunchtime ‘crunch’ may become more of a gentle wave.

Here at Zippin we believe this offers an increasing opportunity for suburban retail, in particular, in the quick serve retail and convenience store sectors. Those working from home may want to grab lunch, or run a quick errand during their work day, and so speed and efficiency will be increasingly more important. 

Zippin-Powered Convenience Store

To that end, earlier this year we opened our largest Zippin-powered convenience store yet, at 4,000 square feet, just outside of St. Louis, Missouri. “West Market”, operated by Home Service Oil, is a shining example of the modern-day fueling station. 

West Market

Supremely convenient, it offers shoppers a wide array of over 2,500 SKUs, from snacks and sandwiches, to soft drinks and alcoholic beverages, as well as household items like painkillers, batteries and auto products.  As with all our stores, shoppers tap their credit card at the turnstile to enter, pick up what they need, and then simply leave.

From the outset, Zippin’s go-to–market strategy has been to focus on where the pain point is most acute. From stadiums and venues - where fans and concert-goers want to reduce the time spent in line for refreshments to a matter of seconds, to gas stations and convenience stores where the aim is to zip in and out as fast as possible. 

We’re excited to see Zippin hit the ‘burbs as more of us are leaving city life, and we know that the one thing consumers don’t want to trade-in is convenience and stellar in-store experiences. As life slowly returns to normal, we are also seeing a surge in crowds at sporting and entertainment events, with transportation hubs like airports and train stations only getting busier.



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