- Standard, an AI company that provides autonomous checkout systems to retailers, has converted a convenience store at the University of Houston into an entirely checkout-free retail facility in partnership with the institution and its dining services provider, according to a press release.
- The company, formerly known as Standard Cognition, worked with Chartwells Higher Education to add its machine-vision system to the store, which is open 24 hours a day and carries snacks, coffee and other items intended for on-the-go consumption.
- Technology that allows shoppers to pay for purchases without visiting a self-checkout station or checkout counter is spreading across the retail spectrum, with companies like Amazon and Giant Eagle recently opening stores equipped with the capability.
Checkout-free technology is growing in popularity among food retailers looking to reduce friction for customers, and the pandemic is helping to amplify the trend by highlighting the advantages of letting shoppers exit stores quickly.
Standard's installation at the University of Houston's store, known as Market Next, does not let people pay for purchases other than with the camera-based system. The university sees the fully contactless approach to retail as helpful to keeping the coronavirus from spreading among students and said it plans to add Standard's technology to additional campus retail facilities during the coming year.
Like its competitors, Standard uses a combination of cameras and artificial intelligence to track items as shoppers remove them from store shelves and charge the goods to a preset payment method as they leave. The company, which operates its own checkout-free store in San Francisco, said it plans to work with Chartwells to bring the technology to stores beyond the University of Houston.
In August, Alimentation Couche-Tard, which runs the Circle K convenience store chain, said it plans to test Standard's technology at a location in the Phoenix area and later bring it to additional stores.
Standard's efforts to spread its technology comes as Amazon expands its fleet of Amazon Go and Amazon Go Grocery stores, which also allow customers to pay for purchases without stopping at a self-checkout counter or cashier station. This year, Amazon also introduced the Dash Cart, which uses computer vision cameras and weight sensors to identify products and is an option for shoppers at the company's Amazon Fresh grocery store in Woodland Hills, California.
Grabango, another Standard rival, is working with Giant Eagle to add checkout-free capabilities to stores run by the East Coast supermarket chain. After a test that began last year, the grocer started commercial operations at a GetGo Cafe+Market convenience store in the Pittsburgh area using Grabango's technology. Giant Eagle is planning to bring Grabango's technology to additional stores, and the tech company is also working with other food retailers.