UK. SIM Local has installed its first automated retail machine at London Heathrow Airport Terminal 3 landside arrivals. The vending technology unit offers bespoke local prepaid sim cards for data, call and text usage for UK visitors.

Brandbox, a specialist in automated retailing, and SIM Local customised the unit to appeal to intercontinental travellers. The “next-generation” machine enables passengers to personalise their sim card selection based on specific criteria, including country of origin, typical calls they intend to make and data download needs. For example, a visitor from Australia making calls home will be offered a different product to someone from Europe who prefers to communicate using messaging apps.

SIM Local CEO Killian Whelan said, “We are excited by the opportunities offered to us by the automated retail channel and how it can meet the needs of Heathrow’s international travellers. We believe the mix of great locations with high footfall, the right products and the technology now available, offers a great new retail option to Heathrow passengers arriving throughout the airport.

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Vending the retail rules: The units are designed for space-constrained environments such as airports

“Importantly for us, the channel offers both a great customer interactive experience and is a great representation of what can be achieved through the evolution of vending to automated retailing in a heavily space- and resource-constrained environment, such as airport terminals.”

Heathrow Airport said that assisting arriving passengers by reducing roaming charges adds value to the passenger experience. Commercial Director Jonathan Coen commented: “We know our passengers expect Heathrow to deliver solutions for mobile connectivity as soon as they arrive at the airport. SIM Local’s latest technology delivers automated retailing with an engaging customer interface – an ideal addition to our arrivals services.”

Brandbox has developed several automated retail concepts for airports, other travel hubs and various high-footfall locations. They include sim cards, branded toys, branded gifts, travel essentials and consumer electronics.