- Checkout-free technology developer Grabango raised $39 million in Series B funding, the company recently announced in a press release.
- The investment round was led by existing investor Commerce Ventures and also included Founders Fund, another earlier Grabango backer, as well as Unilever Ventures, Honeywell Ventures and Wind Ventures.
- Grabango is ramping up its finances as it looks to expand in the fledgling market for technology that automatically charges shoppers for purchases in retail stores.
Checkout-free technology has made significant strides over the past year, with several retailers now running systems that enable customers to entirely avoid checkout counters or self-checkout machines for their purchases.
Grabango said in the press release that it has so far signed deals to install its technology, which uses racks of ceiling-mounted computer vision cameras to track items as customers make selections, with five retailers that each bring in $1 billion in revenue.
The company said it plans to use the new funds in part to enhance its engineering team. The investment round follows a $12 million Series A funding round Grabango announced in January 2019.
The company made headlines last September when Giant Eagle launched the first commercial installation of the company's system at a 3,000-square-foot GetGo Cafe+Market convenience store in the Pittsburgh area following more than a year of testing. The system processes tens of thousands of transactions per month involving more than 15,000 SKUs, according to Grabango.
Giant Eagle, which has also deployed inventory robots from Simbe Robotics in some of its grocery stores, plans to add Grabango's technology to four more GetGo stores in the Pittsburgh region by the end of 2021, according to the press release. "Grabango is a key partner in what we will accomplish in the next 10 years," Laura Karet, president and CEO of Giant Eagle, said in a statement. "Since we first introduced their system last fall, we've seen GetGo customers embrace the technology and use it with enthusiasm."
The checkout-free technology can be used in full-size supermarkets, according to Grabango, but the company has yet to announce such a deployment.
Grabango is vying for attention from retailers with competitors like Standard Cognition, which announced in February that it had raised $150 million at a $1 billion valuation from a consortium of investors. Standard has teamed up with Chartwells Higher Education to install its automated checkout technology in a convenience store at the University of Houston and with Alimentation Couche-Tard on a pilot in the Phoenix area with the Circle K convenience store chain. The company has a goal of installing its equipment at more than 50,000 retail locations in the next five years.
"I don't think there's any shortage of great investors who really believe in this space … and what's been very exciting this year to see it suddenly arrive in the store after many years of very hard work," Ali Mitchell, a partner at EQT Ventures, one of Standard's investors, said in a March interview.
Standard and Grabango are also competing with Amazon, which is selling the "Just Walk Out" technology it pioneered for its Amazon Go stores to other retailers. The company has installed camera-based, automated checkout technology at more than 20 Amazon Go convenience stores in four cities and in four Amazon Fresh stores in the U.K. Bloomberg recently reported that Amazon Fresh stores in the U.S. will also soon feature the company's "Just Walk Out" technology.
In April, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union denounced Amazon's use of checkout-free technology, calling it a threat to jobs.