Belgian retailer Colruyt Group has opened a second branch of its autonomous convenience store concept Okay Direct, in the car park of an Okay supermarket in Lennik (near Brussels). The compact container store serves customers who want to shop outside traditional opening hours.
With this second branch, Okay Direct is testing a smaller variant of the autonomous store the retailer opened in the centre of Ghent in November 2021. The unmanned container store only measures 21 sqm and sells a limited assortment of around 200 products with a focus on fresh, on-the-go and quick meal solutions. Shoppers can visit it day and night from 1 February.
With this 24/7 concept, Okay Direct offers customers of the existing store the opportunity to do their shopping outside normal opening hours and on Sundays. The approach is very different from the 150 sqm Okay Direct in Ghent, which has 650 references on offer. The retailer wants to explore different avenues, managing director Christophe Dehandschutter explains.
Additional branches on the way
“The concept is perfectly scalable. The technology used offers numerous possibilities to develop other applications: to go much bigger, or just much smaller, in an urban or in a totally different context.” In Ghent, the new shop more than lives up to expectations. Colruyt Group therefore wants to open additional stores in the very short term.
The technology for the autonomous stores was developed in-house by Smart Technics, Colruyt Group’s innovation hub. Customers can enter by scanning the QR code of their loyalty card Xtra. With that code, they can also open the doors of the (refrigerated) cabinets to take products. All purchases are automatically registered. At the till, customers then get the final bill and can pay electronically.