24/7 self-service concept for EDEKA Jäger at Stuttgart Airport

Enhancing and expanding existing space for staff-free operation outside regular opening hours

Since July, passengers, visitors, and employees at Stuttgart Airport have benefited from a special service: Shopping 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at EDEKA Jäger. Together with Wanzl, an expert in innovative and individual solutions for the retail sector, a hybrid 24/7 shop concept was created in just a few months in the existing 620 m² / 6,673.6 ft² space at Stuttgart Airport.

From planning and implementation through to commissioning – including project management – EDEKA Jäger relied on Wanzl’s complete solution expertise. The project was implemented in close cooperation with the shopfitting, sales and IT departments at the company Edeka Südwest. The aim was to optimize the existing store at Stuttgart Airport for staff-free operation outside of regular opening hours. Prior to the transformation, customers were able to shop here for everyday products from an extensive selected range between 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. However, outside of these hours, airport employees and guests at the airport (which is open around the clock) were left standing in front of closed doors – an unsatisfactory situation for everyone involved.

“We want to offer optimum shopping convenience. Every customer should have flexible shopping options at the airport, at whatever time they may be there. At the same time of course, this 24/7 self-service concept allows us to generate additional sales,” explains store owner Florian Jäger, who runs four more stores in the Stuttgart area in addition to the outlet at the airport. “The main challenge for me as a businessman was to find out how we could operate the store during and outside off-peak hours. We certainly didn’t want to put any additional strain on our existing staff, and new employees are currently hard to come by in the food retail sector. In general, the issue of staffing will become increasingly pressing in the near future.” He found the solution from a trusted partner: Wanzl. As a full-service provider, the retail expert was already responsible for the fitting out the EDEKA Jäger store at Stuttgart Airport in 2016. The successful working relationship has now been continued.

24/7 extension within a very short space of time

Concept presented in December, store opened in July before the start of summer vacation in Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria. In a very short space of time, Wanzl transformed the conventional EDEKA store into a hybrid 24/7 self-service store that is open from 0:00 to 24:00, Monday to Sunday. “One of Wanzl’s great strengths is its ‘everything from a single source’ approach. At our company, the key account managers, product managers and project managers work directly with our own interior designers, IT developers and planners, along with other departments. In addition, we benefit from our extensive service partner network in Germany. This allows us to manage and deliver even complex projects such as 24/7 concepts smoothly,” says Michael Uitz, Senior Director for Sales Retail Germany at Wanzl, who is primarily responsible for the implementation of Wanzl’s first 24/7 concept with an EDEKA partner.

He continues: “One special feature of the EDEKA Jäger store at Stuttgart Airport was the conversion of an existing space while operations were still running, taking into account the special conditions of an airport. We were able to integrate new hardware and software components, especially in the entrance and exit area as well as in the main and secondary checkout area. Furthermore, we even implemented a separate area for alcoholic drinks.”

The heart of the concept is wanzl connect®, a cloud-based software platform, which enables various processes in the store to be controlled and checked centrally and digitally. Of course, the market operator also has access to wanzl connect®, for example to view the anonymous people count during staff-free operating hours via the intuitive platform in real time. This saves Florian Jäger and his store manager time-consuming manual processes. For customers at the EDEKA Jäger store, the shopping experience during staff-free operation from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. begins upon entry: The latest generation card reader scans a bank or credit card or Apple and Google Pay app to open the Wanzl entrance systems. This allows store operators the option of receiving card data in justified cases. Due to the high proportion of international walk-in customers at the airport, the staff-free purchasing process was also designed to be as intuitive and barrier-free as possible. For example, in addition to access, payment is also compatible with the world’s most common credit cards and payment systems.

The shopping process itself is more or less normal during staff-free operation. Only particularly sensitive items and deposit refunds are subject to security-relevant restrictions. Alcoholic beverages are located in a separate area for people over the age of 18. This can only be accessed after age verification using an ID card or driving license at another Wanzl entrance system with extra-high swivel arms made from toughened safety glass, incl. sensors, to prevent people climbing over and crawling under. In addition, it is possible to make individual ranges in this area, such as high-priced spirits, completely inaccessible via roller shutters. Deposit refunds and tobacco products are also protected by roller shutters during staff-free operation. On request, all roller shutter cabinets integrated into the shelves can be controlled automatically via wanzl connect®. Overnight, customers pay at self-service checkouts with an integrated checkout guidance system for the ideal customer flow. Tailor-made wood applications ensure a high-quality look and a modern ambience. These are now also used in the main checkout areas to help create a coherent overall appearance.

24/7 solutions – a win for everyone involved

More convenient shopping, more appeal – Stuttgart Airport also benefits from the new 24/7 self-service store at EDEKA Jäger as it is able to offer its guests and employees the option to shop around the clock. Close coordination between all parties involved was essential for the project to run smoothly. “Cooperation with the Jäger family, EDEKA Südwest and Stuttgart Airport was extremely professional. All those involved contributed their experience to perfectly implement this innovative concept at this special location – especially in terms of the short delivery time. For example, EDEKA IT provided a checkout solution for the concept at very short notice. In order to comply with the special fire protection regulations, we were in extremely constructive dialog with the airport’s fire protection officers and, in order to provide airport security personnel with free access at all times, we integrated a separate card reader for them so that they can open all gates,” underlines Michael Uitz.

Florian Jäger is also impressed with the consistently successful partnership: “Wanzl’s representatives were available at all times during the project and were on hand to advise us. Another important factor was adherence to the clearly defined budgetary framework – no problem thanks to Wanzl.” Hybrid 24/7 formats are a forward-looking model for extending opening hours, making low-frequency times more effective, and actively addressing acute staff shortages in food retail. Wanzl works closely with all those involved to find tailor-made solutions for every location. Be it a new property or, as with EDEKA Jäger, a simple, efficient conversion of an existing space for manageable investment costs, an ROI is possible within a very short space of time. Florian Jäger has already confirmed this: “We were able to generate good sales during the first few days of staff-free overnight opening.”