The SSE Arena, Belfast_PAY & AWAY (4)

Source: The SSE Arena

The SSE Arena in Belfast has launched a food store and bar powered by Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology, its first implementation on the island of Ireland.

Located on the first floor of the 10,800-capacity arena, the store – named Pay & Away – requires visitors to use a contactless card or mobile wallet to open the store’s entry gate. Once inside they can pick up snacks, drinks and ready-poured draught beer.

When guests pick what they want, they can simply leave without waiting in line, with their chosen payment method charged for the items taken.

The site’s use of the technology made it “the first indoor arena in Europe” to offer the checkout-free shopping experience, the SSE Arena said.

“Providing the best experience every time sits at the core of everything we do and we’re continually looking at ways to enhance our offering,” said Dermot McGinn, group head of food and beverage at the arena’s owner The Odyssey Trust.

“Becoming the first arena in Europe to introduce this checkout-free concept is a radical next step in optimising the customer journey. Through a blend of convenience and speed, the introduction of this innovative new technology will ensure that our visitors can get back to the heart of the action as soon as possible, both during events and at [ice hockey team] Belfast Giants home games.”

Just Walk Out technology has already been rolled out in several venues, including TD Garden in Boston, Lumen Field in Seattle, and Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. In May last year, a convenience store at the Excel centre – called Market Express – adopted the technology, making it the first UK venue to offer it.

As well as in its own Amazon Fresh stores, Amazon’s checkout-free shopping technology has been adopted by several retailers, including Sainsbury’s, which launched a Just Walk Out-powered store – called SmartShop Pick & Go – in Holborn, London in late 2021.

WH Smith also uses Amazon’s technology, launching a checkout-free store at New York City’s LaGuardia Airport early last year.

The SSE Arena, Belfast_PAY & AWAY (3)

Source: The SSE Arena

“We’re thrilled to bring Just Walk Out technology to the island of Ireland,” said Jon Jenkins, vice president of Just Walk Out technology, Amazon. “We’re seeing tremendous interest in Just Walk Out technology from sports facilities across the globe for its ability to increase sales and throughput and delight customers. We look forward to hearing how concertgoers and sports fans alike enjoy the convenience of the new store.”

Stadium hospitality firm Levy UK&I last year launched a checkout-free, small-scale store at Leicester City’s King Power stadium, which sees fans tap their payment card on entry, pick up items and walk out. The company partnered with ‘Just Walk Out’ rival AiFi – which also powers Aldi’s checkout free store in Greenwich – to provide the underlying technology.