- Pittsburgh-based Giant Eagle is partnering with Silicon Valley startup Grabango, a checkout-free technology provider, to debut a "no-wait" checkout experience at its stores, the companies announced in a press release.
- The technology will first be tested at a single Giant Eagle location, which as of press time wasn't named. It includes an automated app-based solution and another that allows shoppers to check out traditionally with cash or credit. The pilot will be followed by a larger chainwide rollout, Grabango told the San Francisco Business Times.
- The technology will not use facial recognition but instead will use computer vision, artificial intelligence and cameras around the store to keep track of what customers are grabbing.
Just-walk-out technology is still fairly new to the scene with only a few startups besides Grabango testing it, including Standard Cognition, Caper, Zippin and Trigo Vision. According to The Spoon, Trigo, the only other company that has announced which retailers it is working with, partnered with Israeli supermarket Shufersal.
Determining what payment technology is the best fit for its shoppers is a growing issue for grocers. According to a recent study from Forrester Research, a short, fast and accurate checkout line is just as important to consumers as location, price and assortment. And many have experimented with various methods, including more efficient programming, additional self-checkout stations, scan-and-go options and just-walk-out technology.
Most retailers in recent months, from Wegmans and Meijer to Sam's Club and Schnucks, have chosen to go the scan-and-go route because it's a well-developed technology that they can more easily integrate into their own platforms without having to partner with a startup and invest large sums of money.
Amazon spent more than $1 million on hardware alone in its first Go store, and those stores are significantly smaller in size than Giant Eagle's massive supermarkets that Grabango will support. But, venture capitalists seem to have faith in the technology, with Grabango raising $12 million in funding earlier this year.
Just as Amazon Go has, Giant could face some roadblocks as it implements the new technology, including backlash and government regulations against stores that don't accept cash. In Philadelphia, just 300 miles from Giant Eagle's headquarters, state regulators instituted a ban on cashierless stores while other cities like San Francisco and New York weigh similar measures. With an option for shoppers to pay with "tender of their choice," however, Giant Eagle and Grabango could avoid this issue.
There aren't many other competitors in the U.S. debuting checkout-free technology besides Zippin's full-size, AI-enabled cashierless store. Standard Cognition, which has a pilot store in San Francisco, has partnered with many retailers abroad and raised about $50 million total in funding over the past year, though it hasn't announced any U.S. retailer partnerships.