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Kiwi retailer Foodstuffs to dump checkouts, deploy new AI tech

Kiwi retailer Foodstuffs to dump checkouts, deploy new AI tech

Technology recognises products as soon as they are placed inside shopping baskets and carts

Imagr founder Will Chomley (left) with Foodstuffs North Island CIO, Peter Muggleston

Imagr founder Will Chomley (left) with Foodstuffs North Island CIO, Peter Muggleston

Forget Amazon Go, real retail innovation is being rolled out by our friends across the ditch. Grocery shoppers in New Zealand will be the first in the world to trial new artificial intelligence technology that removes the need for checkouts at a Four Square store in the Auckland suburb of Ellerslie.

The store, owned by NZ retail group Foodstuffs, will trial Imagr’s Smartcart computer vision technology over the coming months ahead of a rollout in 2019.

The AI solution, which is retrofitted to shopping baskets and carts, recognises products as soon as they are placed inside, eliminating the need for barcode scanning, checkouts and queuing.

To activate Smartcart, shoppers download an app and link a payment method to their account. In store, they pair their smartphone with the shopping trolley or basket, and as they add products to their cart, the items are recognised and appear on their phone’s virtual basket. This removes traditional barcode scanning and the checkout process.

Foodstuffs North Island chief information officer, Peter Muggleston, said brick and mortar retailers must embrace AI technologies to improve the customer experience.

“This technology will give consumers more options, reduced wait times and variety during their store visits, giving our staff more time to offer their advice and help in other ways,” he said.

“Smartcart applies machine learning technology to identify the patterns in a customer’s behaviour and make suggestions for recipes as well as guiding users around the store, based on their product choices.”

The technology can also help with inventory management, cost reduction and analytics. Imagr also said it is working on ways to deliver tailored promotions to customers as they shop.

Imagr said it is in talks with retailers in Australia, the United Kingdom, Europe and America, and is aiming for significant user adoption at the world’s top retailers by 2022.

Retailers worldwide are looking for ways to provide checkout-less options for shopping. In January, Amazon opened its first check-out free store in Seattle in the United States. The store, known as Amazon Go, relies on cameras and sensors to track what shoppers remove from the shelves and what they put back. Customers are billed after leaving the store using credit cards on file.

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Tags retailAIretailersfoodstuffscomputer visionbricks and mortarIMAGRPeter MugglestonSmartcart

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