Cashierless Retail Is Coming to New York Area Airports

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Busy travelers rushing to their gates in Terminal C at Newark Liberty International Airport will soon have one less thing to worry about: waiting in line for drinks, snacks and reading material at Cibo Express Gourmet Market.

That’s because that particular location will officially be cashierless starting March 16.

The news comes just days after Amazon announced it is selling the checkout-free technology from its Amazon Go stores to other retailers and has “several signed deals.”

Hospitality company OTG, which operates 350 restaurants and shops in 10 airports—including in Minneapolis, Washington D.C., Philadelphia and Toronto—said the Cibo Express Gourmet Market in Newark’s United Airlines terminal will be the first in any airport.

A spokesperson for OTG said additional locations at Newark and nearby LaGuardia Airport will follow, but it’s not clear when they will open or whether a standard checkout option will remain for passengers who want to pay the old-fashioned way.

The move could certainly help improve the reputations of both Newark and LaGuardia, which ranked last in J.D. Power’s 2019 airport satisfaction surveys for mega and large airports, respectively, at a time when the air transport industry is projected to lose between $63 billion to $113 billion as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

But it’s also a sign of maturity for the technology itself.

Cashierless retail was revolutionary when it debuted in 2018. Shortly thereafter, reports surfaced Amazon was eyeing as many as 3,000 locations by 2021. But the reality has been much more measured so far—two years later, Amazon has 23 locations in Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Seattle, with another two closed for renovations.

In October, Adweek reported locations like airports and stadiums are an ideal fit because retail there is typically small format, shoppers are in a hurry and they don’t want to buy much anyway. These executions could give the technology a shot in the arm by not only scaling rollout, but also by exposing consumers beyond the early adopters in four major U.S. cities to the concept.

In September, Amazon Go competitor Zippin partnered with the NBA’s Sacramento Kings to open the first cashierless convenience store in a stadium. It allows fans to buy food and beverages, including draft beer, without scanning anything.

CNBC previously reported Amazon was in talks with Regal Cinemas to bring checkout-free shopping to the movies.

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