Belgian retailer Colruyt Group has announced that its OKay chain has opened a 24/7 self-service store for groceries in Ghent.
The OKay Direct store, located on the Belfortstraat, is part of a pilot project that seeks to evaluate the format's feasibility, popularity, and success in an urban environment.
The technology implemented in the store has been developed by Smart Technics – an innovative start-up within Colruyt Group.
Shoppers can access the store by scanning the QR-code on their Xtra app or card.
The QR-code can also be used to open the doors of cupboards or refrigerators to pick up products.
All purchases are registered based on product detection technology on the shelves.
Customers access the final bill by scanning the QR-code again at the checkout, and payment is processed electronically before they leave the store.
Gert Somers, responsible for city formats at OKay, said," In order to keep serving our customers optimally in the future, we are continuously studying and developing innovative solutions that contribute to a simple, quick and easy shopping experience for the customers."
"A great added value for the customers is that they can do grocery shopping in their neighbourhood, 24/7. In this way, we want to appeal to target groups who would benefit from a store with longer opening hours," Somers added.
Colruyt Group reported a 3.7% increase in revenue in its 2020/21 financial year, noting that the COVID-19 pandemic had a 'diverse impact' on its operations.
The 150 square-metre OKay Direct store offers around 650 SKUs from the new OKay Direct label, national brands, and private-label products from the Boni and Everyday ranges.
It also offers fresh fruit and vegetables, fresh meat, fish and bread, as well as household essentials.
Somers added that the company plans to test the concept extensively before rolling it out on a larger scale to other large cities across Belgium.