avec offers 24/7 cashless convenience stores with scan-and-go app powered by Scandit

Valora operates 2,700 small scale retail outlets across Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, offering convenience and food that’s quick and fresh. They’ve gone further with 24/7 cashless convenience at avec stores, where customers self-scan and pay for their shopping with the avec mobile app, powered by Scandit.

The Goal: innovate with self-scanning and a new compact ‘store in a box’ format

Valora sets new standards with its Future Store avecX innovation lab, where customers can try out new shopping innovations. The future of retail – whether online or offline – is inextricably linked to the use of smartphones, and Valora wanted to offer scan-and-go shopping with an easy-to-use mobile app to provide greater flexibility and speed to customers.

avecBox – cashless compact store

Valora also wanted to trial a new, cashless compact ‘store in a box’ – the avecBox – to see how well it would be accepted by customers. At 50 square metres, the sales area is much smaller than the typical 8-900 square metres for a convenience store, and requires shoppers to use the mobile app to scan and pay for items using personal smartphones.

avecBox retail store using Scandit technology

The Solution: create the avecX mobile app with high-performance self-scanning

Error-free, fast and reliable scan performance is a fundamental requirement for any self-scanning shopping app. Without reliable high performance, customers will very quickly lose interest.

The scan engine for the mobile app had to perform barcode scanning for self-scanning shopping plus optical character recognition (OCR) to read the identity documentation needed for customer registration. Scandit’s Barcode Scanner SDK provided both capabilities.

“We had already recognised Scandit as an innovative technology partner from previous projects and we knew that we could rely on their scan engine for the avec app. It works quickly and reliably, even in difficult light conditions. With the Barcode Scanner SDK from Scandit it was easy to integrate the scan function into the app.”

The mobile app, including the scan engine and payment function, was integrated into a backend SAP system: the customer experience and e-Commerce cloud platform SAP C/4HANA. When customers register with their ID card, they are technically communicating with the SAP Customer Data Cloud. This cloud-based application helps Valora comply with European GDPR regulations governing the security and protection of personal data.

avecX mobile scan-and-go user experience

The mobile app is available for iOS and Android devices, and when initially onboarding customers use their smartphone camera to quickly register personal details from any machine-readable identity document, such as an ID card or passport. The app is then used to scan a QR code at the store entrance to get into the store and start shopping. Self-scanning products with the app is easy and when the customer is finished, shopping is completed using the “Pay” function on the mobile app.

Valora focuses on personalized shopping in the Future Store avecX, for example, customers can also have the coffee machine remember their coffee choice for next time, just by using the app to scan the QR code on the coffee machine first.

Results: successful avecBox launch in Zurich railway station

Valora opened its first cashless 24/7 convenience store in Zurich’s main railway station, using the avecX mobile app powered by Scandit. The avecBox core technical solution, including integration into the backend systems, was developed in just five months.

Valora employees were present on site at peak shopping times at the cashless avecBox in Zurich. They helped customers with questions about the app and the shopping experience and kept the shelves full and the store clean. There was a high level of customer satisfaction with the avecX mobile app and the avecBox store. The innovative products, the easy and fast shopping and the 24-hour shopping access were particularly well regarded by customers. Other feedback resulted in the development team improving the app’s usability and creating an English version.

Valora got a great deal of very positive and valuable feedback from customers on both the avecBox and the avecX innovation lab during the first pilot period.

“It was our aim to present the first functional version as quickly as possible, to get customers involved, learn from them and then use this knowledge to develop the model further,” explains Felicitas Suter, Senior Digital Innovation Manager at Valora.

The Zurich launch provided important information for further trials at various locations in Switzerland.

“The customer experience plays a central role in the whole avec convenience concept of Valora. The process begins with registration and continues through customer contact and error handling and on to payment,” says Dominique Martin. “Customer experience and convenience are closely linked. With the new avec formats, convenience applies not just to the range of the store, but to the entire shopping experience.”

The core technology has to ensure that the app works quickly and easily, offers an attractive customer experience and can also be scaled up for a large customer base.

Dominique Martin

Manager Consumer Application for Valora