Ben & Jerry's is set to give New Zealand a scoop of the American retail experience.
The American ice cream brand turned retailer will next week open its first cashless ice cream shop at Wellington Airport on August 17. It will trial Amazon Go-inspired payment with the intention of rolling it out to its other retail locations in New Zealand, and overseas.
Stephanie Tannous, Ben & Jerry's Australia and New Zealand brand lead, said New Zealand had a long-history of payment advances with the early introduction of Eftpos, the roll out of cashless payment systems across toll roads, parking and public transport, which made the capital the right place to trial a cashless store.
Tannous said the store would improve the customer experience, and free up staff and consumers. She said the store signalled Ben & Jerry's shift to meet consumer demands and advances in technology.
"Although we know the shift towards an entirely cashless system will require an initial adjustment process for consumers, we are confident with the technological progression in this space," she said.
"New Zealand is well on its way to being a cashless society already."
Ben & Jerry's would trial the cashless store for six months, and use findings as a basis for future store decisions, she said.
"We are a global brand, we often share our learnings across countries. Following this trial we will collate all our information and share this globally. If it is a success, other countries will use this as a case study."
Ben & Jerry's started in the United States over 40 years ago, and first moved into New Zealand in December 2015. It has expanded to five bricks and mortar locations, including in Ponsonby, Sylvia Park, Mission Bay and Te Awa. It also has a food truck parked up in Takapuna, and is sold in tubs in supermarkets.
Next month it will open a permanent store in Christchurch.
The ice cream giant is in expansion mode, growing its store footprint worldwide. "New Zealand is a great example where it has almost been accelerated," Tannous said.
"Our growth in the last five years has continued to grow and New Zealand is definitely a focus for Ben & Jerry's.
"We'll definitely look to open up more stores in New Zealand in the near future."
Retail analyst Chris Wilkinson said cashless stores were few and far between, but it was the way metropolitan retail business were headed.
"Consider it an extension of the self-checkout and a response to increasing staffing costs," Wilkinson said. "We will definitely see more of this as retail continues to drive efficiency, remove variables - and encourage greater self-management of the transaction process."
Cashless stores would speed up transaction times and eliminate the contamination challenges with staff handling food and cash, he said.
"We'll see more of this - especially for large-volume, low-value sales - where speed and convenience is key. A number of the big chains we're working with here and in Australia are developing strategies around this now."
Ben & Jerry's has over 580 stores located in 22 countries.