- A retrofitted, AiFi-powered frictionless convenience store has opened at the University of San Diego, according to an Aug. 22 press release from the autonomous shopping technology company.
- This is AiFi’s second campus convenience store. Its first, at the University of Denver, opened in April 2022.
- Campus convenience stores are heating up not only as a place for autonomous retail to find its niche, but also for traditional convenience retailers to find new customers.
AiFi retrofitted the Smart Market in USD’s Knauss Center for Business Education with its camera-vision-based technology. Students and other customers scan a dedicated app at the entrance, then select their items and walk out again. The store features hot and cold prepared meals, coffee and kombucha on tap, as well as a number of packaged snacks and drinks.
"Fast moving and low contact checkout are exactly what college students, professors and staff members need,” said Steve Carlin, CEO at AiFi, in the announcement. “We're pleased to partner with [universities] in the direction of innovation."
Frictionless convenience stores are slowly making their way into more universities. Amazon has opened its first three campus stores this year at Marymount University in Virginia, the University of Dayton and the University of Pittsburgh. Standard AI added its first frictionless campus c-store at the University of Houston, while Zippin — better known for its arena locations — has partnered with campus card management systems company Atrium to explore school stores as well.
Traditional c-store retailers are exploring the university market as well, with Foxtrot and Parker’s planning campus stores at The University of Texas at Austin and at Georgia Southern University, respectively.
"The University of San Diego is constantly looking for new innovative ways to improve efficiencies ... and frictionless dining is perfect for our community," said Andre Mallie, assistant vice president of auxiliary services and resource management for USD, in the announcement.
Burlingame, California-based AiFi, founded in 2016, has served over 3.5 million customers and processed over 10 million transactions in its frictionless stores.