Bestway has partnered with tech specialists Innovative Technology to trial an AI-based age verification initiative in the convenience channel.

Three Bestway Retail stores – Bargain Booze in Otley, Wine Rack in Roundhay and Tippl in Garforth – will participate in the trial, which is part of the government’s regulatory ‘sandbox’ scheme to test technologies that can fulfil the requirement for age verification in the retail sale of alcohol.

Between now and May, the three retailers will use Innovative Technology’s ICU age verification technology to verify alcohol and tobacco purchases.

Mike Hollis, retail director at Bestway Wholesale, said staff abuse is rife in the convenience channel and the technology could help.

“We surveyed staff in our three participating stores and the responses received showed that staff abuse, particularly when it comes to the refusal to sell alcohol, is a significant issue,” he said. “All participants agreed that using technology could reduce staff abuse and we believe that using the ICU screen will act as a deterrent when it comes to staff abuse. It will also give retailers peace of mind and ensure that they avoid prosecutions, fines, or losing their licence for the miss-sale of alcohol or tobacco products.”

Dr Andrew O’Brien, ICU product manager added: “Our team has liaised with local licensing authorities, local police officers and local councils to ensure our solution (ICU) is safe, legal and meets the criteria of the scheme. ICU age verification technology will now be piloted in several Bestway Retail stores in Yorkshire, and we will closely monitor our test sites to ensure we support the retailers’ and collate the relevant data throughout the trial.”