Okay Direct, a Belgian autonomous city store concept by Colruyt Group that was recently awarded the Mercury Prize, plans to open additional branches in the near future and is looking at new features such as seamless payment according to the ‘just walk out’ principle.
Just this Wednesday, Okay Direct was awarded the Mercury Prize for the best innovation in Belgian retail. The autonomous city store in Ghent opened its doors almost one year ago, and allows customers to shop every day of the week, day and night, on its 150 sqm surface thanks to technology developed in-house by Smart Technics, the innovative start-up within Colruyt Group.
Expectations were met the past year, the company reports: the results are in line with expectations and customer reactions are very positive. The intention is therefore to open additional branches, and already in the short term. After all, there is still great potential for Colruyt Group within cities.
Opening city stores faster
However, the retailer does not want to rely on the franchise model used by competitors in those city locations. With OKay Compact, Colruyt Group currently has just thirteen convenience stores in Belgian city centres. OKay Direct would allow to open urban stores faster. The technology also lends itself to other applications: larger, smaller or in a different context.
The retailer also continues to optimise the concept to even better meet customer expectations, manager Gert Somers says: “Furthermore, we are looking at how we can make check-out even smoother – maybe even according to the ‘just walk out’ principle. But for that we have to shift up a level, because then we will also link the store visit to the customer’s bank account. It is on the table.”