How Cashierless Concessions Can Help Provide a Safe Return to Sports

By Gary Jacobus - March 17, 2021

The world of sports, concerts and live events has been turned upside down by the pandemic, but as vaccination distribution continues to ramp up, and case counts have declined, it appears that the U.S. is approaching a return to live sporting events. 

Major League Baseball has announced that many of its teams will welcome fans back to their ballparks starting in April, with most ballparks operating at reduced capacity. For example, the Oakland A’s have announced that fans can return for baseball Opening Day at a reduced capacity of 20%, with mandatory face masks; concourse concessions will not be open but fans may order food on their mobile devices and have it delivered to their seats. 

Cashierless concessions were becoming commonplace before the pandemic hit. Now, they are playing a major role in helping sports venues create a safe return to gameday for fans, and improving the fan experience way beyond the pandemic. 

Safer Concessions Buying 

Even though teams are starting to reopen and welcome fans back, there are still public health concerns around minimizing crowds and avoiding contact with staff and other fans. Cashierless technology provides a safer shopping experience during COVID-19 by eliminating lines and facilitating a contactless shopping experience. 

One example is the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs are allowing fans back to AT&T Center at a reduced capacity, and they now have a Zippin-powered “Drink MKT” beverage store. With Zippin’s checkout-free platform, Spurs fans can enter the Drink MKT by tapping their credit card or scanning in with the Zippin mobile app, and then get charged for their purchases automatically; Zippin’s overhead cameras and smart shelves identify the items as they get picked off the shelf and the customer pays automatically upon exiting the store.   

Another technology that the Spurs are using is to allow people to order food from concession stands via the team’s mobile app; when the food is ready, there is a dedicated lane for mobile express order pickup. The Spurs app serves as a “remote control” to the team’s AT&T Center - including mobile ticketing, contactless payments via mobile wallet, and mobile concessions orders. 

Safer concessions with cashierless and checkout-free technology is just one of the reasons why the San Antonio Spurs are one of the most innovative teams for creating a contactless experience for sports fans. These are just a few examples of how venue operators can welcome fans back to live events safely, while continuing to earn revenue from concessions.

Frictionless Shopping 

One challenge with sporting events is that everyone wants to get their food and drink at the same time: before kick-off, during halftime, between innings…checkout-free technology makes it significantly faster to serve fans and get people back to their seats. Eliminating lines reduces crowds and keeps people from being in prolonged close contact with each other. Along with the San Antonio Spurs, the Denver Broncos, the Sacramento Kings and other sports teams are already working with Zippin to create frictionless shopping experiences at their venues. 

Checkout-free Technology Builds Confidence Among Fans 

A December 2020 survey from Tappit found that only 27% of sports fans were looking forward to attending a game in the next six months, and 52% said that long concessions lines were part of their decision process. Eliminating concessions lines can help show sports fans that their favorite teams and venues are being proactive in providing a safe environment for watching the game. 

Cashierless is the Future 

The U.S. is showing momentum right now in getting the pandemic under control; vaccines are ramping up fast, President Biden has announced that all U.S. adults should be eligible to sign up for a vaccine by May 1. But even after the pandemic, cashierless platforms like Zippin will create a better experience for sports fans. Checkout-free is the future of the gameday experience

Imagine the future of the fan experience at a live sporting event: Fans have their tickets saved on your team’s mobile app, people can use their phones as a “remote control” to get in-game updates and stats or order food from their seats, and checkout-free technology, like Zippin, helps customers to quickly, seamlessly get food and drinks without having to wait in line. 

Sports teams are adopting checkout-free technology now to help keep people safe, and cashierless technology and other innovations are going to continue to expand beyond the pandemic. This is all part of the evolution of creating a better gameday experience and helping venues improve their food and beverage operations. 

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