Poland’s Żabka overtakes Amazon in European race for autonomous stores

Polish convenience giant Żabka Group has just completed the opening of the largest chain of autonomous stores in Europe. 25 stores have been launched under the Żabka Nano and Żappka banners, and at least another 12  are set to be added by March.

The concept uses contactless, AI-powered computer vision technology allowing clients to do their groceries without a checkout. 

Amazon has been adding to its collection of its own-branded contactless Amazon Go and Fresh stores in the UK since March 2021 when it announced it planned to launch 30 of them. However, it turned out that the American company has been slower than Żabka and only opened 15 such shops so far in and around London.

The UK’s fifth-largest supermarket, Aldi, also opened a pilot checkout-free store in London last week.

Meanwhile, in Poland, Żabka has pushed ahead and opened 25 Nano stores across the country in six different cities: Warsaw, Kraków, Gdańsk, Sopot, Poznań, and Piaseczno. Their locations vary from city centres, within large-format stores and universities, to the railway and underground stations.

The stores focus on “grab-and-go” items like beverages, food, and snacks. Depending on the size of the shop, they stock from 450 to 1,500 products, excluding regulated items such as alcohol and tobacco. They are also open 27/7. 

The use of the new facility is made easier via Żabka’s mobile application called Żappka. It is worth mentioning that the latter is used by an impressive 8 million Poles (20 per cent of the population!). 

“The difference between us and Amazon is that we don’t have any gates,” Paweł Grabowski, head of unmanned solutions at Żabka told Forbes. 

“When you open the door you are already identified through the app via a QR code, and you can freely walk around,” he added.

Since the year 2000, Żabka Polska has become the largest convenience store chain in Poland, with over 7,900 stores run by 6,500 franchisees under the Żabka brand. The company’s stores are located in such a way that about 12 million Polish customers live within a range of 1,000 feet. Żabka shops are visited daily by over 2.5 million shoppers.


Cover photo: Żabka promotional footage

Author: Sebastien Meuwissen

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