Israel’s biggest supermarket chain is running an experiment with checkout-less stores where customers can take merchandise off the shelves and leave without making conventional payment, instead being automatically charged though a smartphone app.
The venue is a Shufersal pilot store in Tel Aviv, operated in collaboration with Israeli startup company Trigo Vision, Globes said on Sunday.
The store’s 100 square meter-ceiling is covered with a network of 35 cameras that track everything that moves in the space, and through AI technology identify each customer and the products they take from the shelves. No self-service checkout, no barcodes, no scanning at a checkout.
The system can also identify and record the replacement of a product to the shelf when a customer decides not to purchase it.
There is also an option to pay in the store by cash or credit card. No scanning of purchases is required. The system identifies all the goods in the trolley, in the hand, or in a bag, and automatically displays them on the terminal screen.
Shufersal Executive Vice President, Human Resources, Administration and Information Technology Zvika Fishheimer foresees “three to five years to full rollout of 360 stores, and next year we’ll launch the first store. We want to turn all of Shufersal’s stores into this kind of store.”
Details of the collaboration were not available. But Shufersal did confirm that it has not invested in Trigo Vision and does not hold shares or options on shares in the company.
Trigo Vision has so far raised some $7 million from financing rounds led by Israel venture capital firm Vertex and British firm Hetz. The company confirms that a further round is underway, details of which have not yet been disclosed.
Outside of Israel, Trigo Vision is working with three retail chains in Europe, and is at the pilot stage with them, according to Globes.
And what about the checkout staff? What will become of their jobs?
On this, Fishheimer is notably vague. “For us, the primary value is the customer experience, to leave without waiting in line and without passing through a checkout. Stores will not be left without manpower, but its function will change.”