Wakefern unveils frictionless checkout pilot


Dive Brief:

  • Wakefern Food, which runs grocery banners such as ShopRite, Price Rite and Fairway Market, has opened an autonomous convenience store with frictionless checkout technology from Trigo at its corporate campus in Edison, New Jersey, the East Coast retailer cooperative said Tuesday in an emailed press release.
  • Called The Pantry, the store is a pilot to test Trigo’s artificial intelligence-based technology, which uses computer vision with cameras and shelf sensors to identify which products shoppers choose. Wakefern employees can shop the store through the use of an app linked to their ShopRite Price Plus account.
  • That location had a grand opening last Wednesday, and Wakefern is planning to open a second store with Trigo’s technology, Charles McWeeney, vice president of technology, innovation and strategy at Wakefern, said at a Sunday session during the National Retail Federation’s conference in New York City. He did not specify where the store is located or when it will open. 

Dive Insight:

Since Wakefern and Trigo unveiled plans to test Trigo’s frictionless checkout tech at an unspecified store in New Jersey, the companies are making progress in seeing how this type of shopping experience fits into the grocery landscape. 

“We’re working with Trigo on two stores to start,” McWeeney said at the conference session, but did not provide further information about the second location, including whether it will be another convenience store or a full-size grocery location.  

Wakefern also did not say how large The Pantry is. It includes snacks, salads, pantry staples, groceries and prepared foods.  

“Our Wakefern associates can shop The Pantry at work for groceries they need at home while simultaneously providing helpful feedback for us on the technology. The chance to evolve in the self-service space at retail is important and we hope to learn more about frictionless checkout and how we can potentially provide this cutting-edge and convenient technology to Wakefern member-owned businesses,” McWeeney said in the press release.

Wakefern said it is the first U.S. company to test Trigo’s technology, and noted in the press release that frictionless checkout technology allows smaller-format stores or convenience markets to create store-within-store offerings. 

Trigo highlighted during the NRF session that its technology supports purchases of items such as fresh produce, coffee, prepackaged items, newspapers and age-restricted items such as beer crates. It takes about 30 seconds for a customer to get their receipt, Trigo CEO and founder Michael Gabay said at the session.

The pilot is the latest move by Wakefern to enhance its in-store consumer experience through technology deployments. 

“We have self-checkout in many of our stores. We have mobile scan in many of our stores and we’re experimenting with smart carts,” McWeeney said during the NRF session. “We see a vision for true frictionless checkout in grocery, including support for weighed items like produce and meats, as well as food service.”

Wakefern’s initial trial of checkout-free tech in a corporate location is reminiscent of Ahold Delhaize’s pilot in 2019 of frictionless technology at a small format store called Lunchbox at the company’s retail business services office in Quincy, Massachusets. Wakefern’s work with Trigo comes at a time when digitizing stores has become a hot topic for the retail industry. 

Two people in professional attire on a conference stage.

Charles McWeeney, vice president of technology, innovation and strategy at Wakefern Food, (left) and Trigo CEO and founder Michael Gabay (right) at a National Retail Federation session on Jan. 15, 2023. 

Catherine Douglas Moran/Grocery Dive

 

 

 

Trigo provides retailers with predictive inventory management, real-time analytics, planogram compliance and marketing. The Israeli firm also can give insights into product availability, product switching, price sensitivity and the amount of time it takes shoppers to find items. 

Trigo already has several retail deployments across Europe, including a 2,700-square-foot, fully autonomous Tesco Express store with 3,320 SKUs in London and a nearly 2,400-square-foot checkout-free Netto discount store with 3,500 SKUs in Munich. 

In the coming year, Trigo plans to open stores that are more than 10,000 square feet, Gabay said. It was not clear whether any of that size will be in the U.S. 

Trigo’s StoreOS platform supports stores that are approximately 15,000 square feet, and by 2025 it will be able to support 40,000-square-foot locations, per a presentation at the NRF session.

Frictionless checkout is still nascent with U.S. grocers. Trigo expects the cost of the technology to decline. 

The company has raised just over $200 million to date, according to the NRF presentation. In October, Trigo announced it raised $100 million in equity financing from new and existing investors. 



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