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The Florida Panthers improve the fan experience with Verizon 5G Edge Cashierless Checkout

  • 5G Edge Cashierless Checkout has become a game-changer in the retail world, especially in the sports and live entertainment space where a quicker trip to a concession stand can be the difference in seeing or missing the best part of a game, concert or show.

    In an effort to improve the fan experience at their home arena, the Florida Panthers of the NHL® implemented cashierless checkout ahead of hosting February’s 2023 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend. It was the next step in the team’s ambitious plan to digitally transform operations throughout the organization, and to enhance the fan experience at Amerant Bank Arena.

    The digital checkout solution allows fans to enter a cashierless concession store, select food and beverage items and walk directly out so they can get back to their seats without missing much or any of the action on the ice.

    To implement cashierless checkout within a tight timeframe ahead of a high-profile All-Star Weekend, the Panthers turned to a reliable partner—Verizon.

    • Renewing 5G partnerships to introduce cashierless checkout

    • A key starting point in the Panthers’ digital transformation occurred when Verizon outfitted Amerant Bank Arena with full 5G Ultra Wideband coverage ahead of All-Star Weekend.

      Having already successfully completed similar arena projects in the sports and entertainment industry, Verizon proved to be the perfect partner for the Panthers, especially in their effort to have cashierless checkout implemented ahead of the All-Star Weekend.

      “Verizon has the resources at their fingertips to be able to throw a lot of firepower behind a project on a tight timeline,” said Bryce Hollweg, Chief Operating Officer for the Panthers. “We got this turned around in a matter of weeks.”

      Leveraging the arena's ultra-fast 5G Ultra Wideband capabilities, Verizon's 5G Edge Cashierless Checkout solution uses mobile edge computing (MEC), digital cameras and machine learning (ML) to help create a streamlined checkout process.

      With cashierless checkout at Amerant Bank Arena, hockey fans gain access to the cashierless vending station using an app on their mobile phone. As they select items for purchase, cameras in the store recognize the selection and add the items to the fan’s virtual shopping cart. From there, a fan simply exits the station with their purchases and a digital receipt is sent to them.

      In close coordination with the Panthers, intensive testing and execution led to a successful launch in time for All-Star Weekend. In addition to bringing its deep expertise in 5G and MEC to bear, Verizon's project and delivery management abilities helped ensure a successful launch within a short window.

      "Amazingly, we were able to get this thing up and going, literally doing testing through Friday afternoon with the arena opening that Friday night. It was that close,” said Brian Gorney, Managing Director Sports & Entertainment for Verizon Business Group. “The Verizon and Panthers teams did incredible work in what was a compressed time frame.”

  • View of the Florida Panthers stadium
    • Bryce Hollweg, Chief Operating Officer, Florida Panthers

    • Beginning quotation mark  Verizon has the resources at their fingertips to be able to throw a lot of firepower behind a project on a tight timeline. We got this turned around in a matter of weeks.”

      Bryce Hollweg, Chief Operating Officer, Florida Panthers

    • Launching successfully at the 2023 NHL All-Star Weekend

    • As Amerant Bank Arena opened its doors for the All-Star Weekend, fans began trying cashierless checkout to buy drinks and snacks before making their way to their seats. Gorney was there to observe how the solution performed firsthand, watching as fans became comfortable using cashierless checkout via their apps in mere seconds instead of waiting in long lines for a cashier to ring them up. After a while, he saw the same fans coming back to buy their next drink or bag of chips, already seasoned pros at using the new technology. "It was fun to talk through it with some of the fans along the way," Gorney said.

      With the arena at peak capacity, the underlying 5G network and MEC infrastructure performed as anticipated. "The time per transaction was unbelievably fast," Gorney said. Fans were able to complete their purchases and get back to their seats without having to worry about missing much, if any, of the action on the ice. 

      The cashierless checkout platform also allows for enhanced integration that will benefit the customer experience and improve venue operations. On the front end, the Panthers plan to pursue additional integration with the team's mobile app as well as its loyalty program. On the back end, the team aims to improve the platform's integration with the arena's existing inventory and point-of-sale (POS) systems. This step will enable more streamlined inventory and store management and allow for better allocation of staff and resources. Further, the data gathered from repeated purchasing will allow the team to groom its concessions offerings to align with the preferences and shopping habits of the fans.

  • Bryce Hollweg and Brian Gorney walking through the Florida Panthers stadium
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    • Committing to continuous innovation

    • With the successful implementation of cashierless checkout complete, the Panthers are excited to implement several other low-friction solutions to help improve the overall fan experience, including:

      • Entertainment: Fans can participate in games and be digitally integrated into displays using the team-issued app on their phones.
      • Security: The team can enjoy improved monitoring of ingress and egress to and from the Arena, improved operations for security cameras, and advanced detection for banned carry-in items such as alcohol or weapons.

      “What can we do to make the experience frictionless from the time a person parks their car to when they’re in the arena? What are they spending on and how are they spending? Are they using the mobile app? Are they connected?” Hollweg said. “All those things really matter.”

      By recognizing the evolving wants and needs of its fan base, the Florida Panthers franchise is positioned to make the necessary digital advancements at Amerant Bank Arena to meet those demands.

      “People are really connected to their devices,” Hollweg said. “They want to be able to stream video and post on social media. So, we want to be able to provide Wi-Fi service to them while making sure on the business side we’re allowing people to purchase within our retail shops, our food and beverage services and just really elevating the fan experience.”

    • Brian Gorney, Managing Director Sports & Entertainment, Verizon Business Group

    • Beginning quotation mark  The time per transaction was unbelievably fast.”

      Brian Gorney, Managing Director Sports & Entertainment, Verizon Business Group

    • Learn more

    • Our Software as a Service (SaaS) solution—paired with ultra-fast 5G Ultra Wideband—uses computer vision and machine learning to enable seamless shopping.

      Watch the Cashierless Checkout video
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