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Fan-First Innovations: AiFi & Mercedes-Benz Stadium Discuss the Impact of Frictionless Checkout on the Fan Experience at ALSD

The future of stadiums lies in embracing frictionless checkout experiences to enhance the fan experience. Learn more from our time at ALSD.

The 33rd Annual ALSD Conference & Tradeshow held in the nation’s sports capital, Indianapolis, Indiana from July 9-11 was a home run. Read on to hear about the event firsthand from AiFi’s Head of Sales and Account Management, Americas.

Earlier this month, the AiFi team attended the 33rd Annual ALSD Conference & Tradeshow from July 9-11 in the nation’s sports capital, Indianapolis, Indiana. I, Rich Wallace, AiFi’s Head of Sales and Account Management, Americas, was proud to represent AiFi as a Gold Sponsor of the conference.

It was great meeting with some of the most brilliant minds in the industry to discuss how we can collectively enhance the fan experience. For instance, how AiFi empowers retail operators worldwide to scale autonomous shopping solutions with 100% computer vision

In this article, I’m sharing my experience at this year’s ALSD Conference & Tradeshow. Continue reading to learn more about:

  • What happened at ALSD
  • What was discussed during my Fireside Chat with Justin Antonacci, Mercedes-Benz Stadium’s CFO
  • Key takeaways from the conference

WHAT HAPPENED AT ALSD?

In addition to some excellent speaking sessions on the state of the industry, new construction projects, and adopting innovation as a culture, attendees had the opportunity to tour a few stadiums in the area. 

Unfortunately, I did miss the tour of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but I heard from my colleagues that it was quite insightful and awesome to see!

WHAT AiFi DID AT ALSD

As a Gold Sponsor, we were able to set up a booth at the event and showcase AiFi’s technology in real time. We built a real store-like setup with cameras so that when people walk in, they are represented on our screen as a digital avatar of their body (it looks like a stick figure). 

What better way to showcase the power of AiFi at ALSD than to bring AiFi’s computer vision to ALSD? 

I loved how we showcased this technology at the conference to illustrate how our platform actually captures people moving in space and detects interactions when people are picking products from the shelf. In my opinion, this was one of the coolest parts of the conference… but I’m just slightly biased. 

MY FIRESIDE CHAT WITH JUSTIN ANTONACCI, CFO, MERCEDES-BENZ STADIUM

I was honored to host a Fireside Chat with Justin Antonacci, the CFO of Mercedes-Benz Stadium at ALSD. We talked about maximizing the fan experience at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in collaboration with Levy Restaurants and how AiFi is playing a key role in this movement. We’ve had a partnership with the AMBSE Team for a while, with two food and beverage stores powered by AiFi within the stadium. Coming down the line is a third location (and a fourth and a fifth) giving more fans the opportunity to experience AI-powered shopping and never wait in line.

“We know we’ve really got our work cut out for us in the battle for fans,” said Justin. “As the home entertainment experience continues to improve for fans we know we’ve got to do everything we can to continue to improve the offering in the venue, whether that’s for concerts, football games, or soccer matches. So we really look at the fan experience holistically. From the time they get their tickets until they’re pulling out of the parking lot.”

When asked why Mercedes-Benz Stadium chose to partner with AiFi to improve the fan experience, Justin said, “When we started looking at the market and the options out there, AiFi really stood out among the rest—from how far along they were in the development and implementation process to how they were able to integrate into our existing systems. We also, of course, did our due diligence and reached out to other venues and teams to see what they liked and disliked about all the players in the space and consistently AiFi came out on top.”  

To date, Mercedes-Benz Stadium has found success with AiFi’s autonomous and frictionless checkout solutions, as the stores have experienced:

  • A revenue increase of 270% vs portables prior
  • A fan conversion increase from 0.59% to 2.04% (that’s 3.5x!)
  • Repeat shoppers ranged between 25-45%, a significant increase from the stadium’s average

KEY TAKEAWAYS FROM ALSD

  • Innovation is a byproduct of guest experience: Christian Lau, Los Angeles Football Club’s CTO, said, “Innovation is a byproduct of focusing on the guest experience. ROI is secondary to guest experience.” I couldn’t agree more! Establishing an internal culture of innovation is the key to improving the fan experience. The best forms of hospitality provide bespoke experiences that guests won’t (and can’t) forget.
  • Finding reliable labor to execute world class service is a challenge: Chris also mentioned that LAFC is lucky to have 80% of their estimated game day employees show up to work. While he believes this is a problem that isn’t going away anytime soon, he also mentioned that going cashierless will help mitigate these labor optimization issues. Essentially, don’t build solutions that look for a problem. Instead, approach stadium innovation with a problem you’re looking to solve.
  • Building community-focused facilities is important: Today’s fans desire to be part of a community. Cultural gathering spaces help facilitate this. During a speaking session about the new Eleven Park development for the Indy Eleven MLS team, Ersal Ozdemir, the Owner and Chairman of Indy Eleven, emphasized that the project aims to create a vibrant community centered around the stadium. The development includes interconnected spaces such as living areas, retail outlets, and dining establishments, all carefully designed to foster a strong sense of community. It’s spaces like these that AiFi’s tech shines, enabling fans to enjoy seamless and easy food and beverage experiences.
  • The future of stadiums is cashierless, frictionless, and checkout-free: I noticed that when people spoke about autonomous store solutions at ALSD, everyone used a different term! Even though varying terms like “frictionless technology”, “cashierless”, and “grab and go” were being tossed around on the exhibition floor and in speaking sessions, one thing is certain: autonomous solutions are the key to enhancing the fan experience. And it makes sense, right? Sports fans want to stay in their seats so they don’t miss a minute of the game. That means they need quicker experiences at food and beverage stations inside the stadium. Autonomous technology enables just that.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I truly had a blast at the 33rd Annual ALSD Conference & Tradeshow. And after speaking with and hearing from other industry leaders, it is evident that the future of stadiums lies in embracing frictionless checkout experiences. AiFi, with its cutting-edge computer vision technology, stands at the forefront of this movement, revolutionizing the fan experience within stadiums and beyond.

If you’re looking to redefine the fan experience at your stadium or event venue, don’t hesitate to take the next step. Embrace the future of autonomous shopping with AiFi, and unlock the potential for unparalleled growth, enhanced customer satisfaction, and a seamless journey toward success. 

Book your demo with AiFi today and witness firsthand the game-changing power of computer vision and frictionless checkout solutions.

 

 

About the Author

Rich Wallace is AiFi’s Head of Sales and Account Management, Americas. He is a proven sales professional with extensive experience growing revenue and managing commercial teams at early-stage companies in retail-tech & FinTech industries. With a technical background, he is skilled in building strategic partnerships, managing sales teams, and international business development.