Shoppers in Ghent will soon have access to a 24-hour automated supermarket open seven days a week as part of a new trial by Colruyt's OKay grocery store chain.
The trial begins with a new OKay Direct store in Ghent and is due to open on 9 November. It uses technology by Smart Technics, the Colruyt Group's innovation and automation team.
To gain access, shoppers will scan a loyalty card QR code, which can also be found in the app. This code will also be used to open refrigerator cabinets and eventually pay the bills, with automatic detection registering purchases when they are lifted from the shelves.
"With this pilot project, we meet the customer's evolving needs, such as the importance of autonomy and freedom and focus on product quality, " the company explained in a press release. "OKay wants to respond to these needs with a new 24/7 shop formula where self-service is central."
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The company aims to provide a much-needed service to shoppers who cannot make it to shops during regular hours and offer them something new.
"A great added value for the customers is that they can do their shopping 24/7 in their neighbourhood," explained Gert Somers, responsible for the city formulas at OKay. "I think here of students, people with irregular or late working hours such as employees in care, emergency services, etc."
The 150m² store on the Belfortstraat will contain around 650 home brands and private label products. Fresh products ranging from fruit and veg to meat and fish will be available alongside ready meals and hygiene products.
Somers added that the pilot shop is a chance to test the technology and popularity "before rolling it out on a larger scale to other large cities".
OKay has about 140 stores in Belgium and currently employs more than 2,500 workers.