We’ve all spent our fair share of time standing in a grocery checkout line, clutching a handful of items that would take mere minutes to scan behind a family of six doing their weekly shop, on our way home from a long day at the office detesting further human interaction, or running late for a dinner party.
“The biggest pain point in grocery retail is the checkout according to studies and research,” Ran Peled, VP of marketing at Trigo Vision, tells AFN. “Consumers don’t appreciate the alternatives that have been appearing like self-checkout and what people call ‘scan, bag, go’ apps where you walk through the store and scan your items on your self phone as you go. They aren’t adopting these alternatives.”
Trigo Vision has combined computer vision and AI software to create a camera-based system that is able to detect when someone picks an item from the shelf and places it in his or her basket. Shoppers will have a choice on whether to opt-in by scanning their store membership card when they enter. The items they place in their baskets are tallied and a total is provided when the customer leaves the store. Users can pay either by having their payment information pre-loaded into the store’s membership system or at a multi-tender payment kiosk.
The company today announced a $22 million Series A led by growth fund Red Dot Capital with the participation of existing investors Vertex Ventures Israel and Hetz Ventures. This round brings the two-year-old company’s total capital to $29 million. Although the technology could have future prospects in industries beyond grocery, Trigo sees grocery as being the ripest retail opportunity for digital checkout disruption. While not everyone goes clothes or electronics shopping every day, we all have to eat.
“We believe that Trigo’s world-leading computer-vision team will be the first to scale this technology globally and unlock the full potential of a true grocery-wide revolution,” said Barak Salomon, managing partner of Red Dot Capital, in a press release announcing the funding. “The process of manually scanning barcodes for each separate item at checkout is outdated and time-consuming. Trigo’s technology is going to save brick and mortar, revitalizing the in-store experience while keeping the best part of shopping alive.”
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The new funds will be used to help the Trigo Vision scale its technology to meet the needs of larger store formats. It’s already piloting trials of the technology with stores like Israel’s Shufersal in footprints as large as 5,000 square feet — twice the size of Amazon Go. Shufersal will deploy the technology in 280 of its stores over the next five years.
Peled believes that a major failing of recent innovations in checkout has created more friction for consumers instead of making the process a seamless digital dream. At their core, self-checkout kiosks encompass fairly basic technology, essentially placing the shopper on the employee side of the checkout lane and asking them to perform the cashier’s work. In reality, the self-checkout kiosk only streamlines the process of checking out for the retailer, placing the burden of completing a transaction on the shopper.
“It’s been proven that the more a system asks you to do something, the more you are prone to cut corners or the more you probably feel like you’ve been asked to do too much. The burden to use our system is not too high on the consumer end,” Peled says.
They have also lead to a major uptick in shrink as consumers either intentionally or unintentionally fail to scan all of the items in their baskets. Although it may seem like Trigo’s solution could make shrink an even bigger factor, the technology is actually well-armed against would-be thieves.
“With our technology, it doesn’t really matter if you take a product from the shelf and put it in your basket or your jacket pocket or a tote bag. We have already identified the choice that you’ve made,” he adds.
In today’s increasingly digitizing world, some consumers are uneasy about having their private information recorded by companies, let alone visual recordings of their shopping habits. To launch the product, Trigo has focused on geographies that have already had substantial exposure to video recording, like Europe’s CCTV. He also likes to remind people that you’re already being watched in most stores.
“If you look at a normal grocer today, there are security cameras everywhere. The trade-off is that they prevent shoplifting and most people are okay with that. With our system, we use regulation-compliant cameras and we don’t record or keep any images. The benefit of use is 100% for the consumer, as well.”