Zippin, Atrium bring future of convenience to TU

New Tiger Express store uses AI, other technology to enhance shopping experience

By JAMIE ABELL on November 3, 2023

Student shopping in Tiger Express
A student shops in the new, AI-powered store, Tiger Express, during its grand opening. (Lauren Castellana | Towson University)

Towson University today announced the grand opening of Tiger Express, an innovative, checkout-free store located in West Village Commons made possible through a ground-breaking partnership between Zippin and Atrium. Open 24/7, the store ushered in a new era of convenience by offering round-the-clock, frictionless shopping to the entire TU community. It stocks a variety of essentials, including snacks, drinks, packaged meals and personal care products, ensuring patrons can find what they need at any time.

“The convenience offered by Tiger Express makes it easier for our students to purchase what they need, when they need it,” says Vernon Hurte, Ph.D., vice president of student affairs. “The unique shopping experience will cut down on long lines and wait times that students typically faced.”

Tiger Express marks the first checkout-free college store in the U.S. to combine Zippin’s checkout-free technology with Atrium’s campus card management solution. OneCard holders such as students, faculty and staff shopping at the store can choose between paying with Dining Dollars or Doc Dollars. The store also accepts credit cards. This unique flexibility provides a more seamless experience than with other checkout-free providers that require a mobile app to shop.

“What makes our approach unique is our ability to give students complete choice in how they pay,” says Krishna Motukuri, CEO and co-founder of Zippin. “Through our partnership with Atrium, Towson University students, faculty and staff can shop with their campus cards—something they use almost everywhere else on campus—and even choose between Doc Dollars and Dining Dollars. It’s a better checkout-free experience, which helps Towson University stand out as a technology leader in higher education.”

Zippin uses AI-powered cameras and sensors to accurately track purchases, eliminating the need for a traditional checkout. Shoppers simply enter the store with a valid payment method, pick what they want and zip out. Receipts are available on the Towson OneCard portal or the Zippin microsite, depending on payment type. 

“Enabling campus payments at check-out free stores is another example of how Atrium is reimagining the campus card experience for the mobile generation,” says Tammy Johnson, Atrium president and CEO. “Through our partnership with Towson University and Zippin, we developed a solution that met Towson’s specific requirements and achieved their goal of providing a better commerce experience for their campus community.”

Tiger Express has been operational for several years and was renovated into a checkout-free shop this year. Previously open 28 hours a week, it is now open 24/7 providing students with vastly improved access, including a door directly leading to outside the building.

“I really like the new store, and it being open 24 hours is really helpful. I ran out of cereal once and was able to quickly get some more, even past the building hours,” says student Briana Francis ‘24. “It’s a really good addition to the campus, and it’s super accessible.”

Photos of the front of the Tiger Express store.
The grand opening of Tiger Express, a 24/7 convenience store in West Village Commons. (Lauren Castellana | Towson University)