The future of frictionless grocery shopping

On the first day of the NRF Retail Big Show, we heard from Michael Gabay, CEO and Co-Founder of innovative retail tech firm, Trigo. Michael was joined on stage by Charlie McWeeney, Vice President Technology, Innovation & Strategy, Wakefern.

Trigo, a tech company, is reimagining shopping by partnering with leading grocery retailers around the world to seamlessly retrofit them into modern, frictionless, smart supermarkets.

Those retailers include Tesco, Aldi and US retailers like Wakefern. The session provided great insights and directions for Australian retailers.

Tesco announced the opening of three autonomousstores in November 2022. Aldi (Nord) opened its first AI-Powered frictionless supermarket in July 2022, in Utrecht, the Netherlands.

German retailer REWE also expanding into ‘frictionless’ grocery shopping with Germany’s first fully autonomous store, after already testing two hybrid test stores in Cologne and Berlin, where customers had the choice of shopping either via the app or paying traditionally at the register.

Wakefern is the largest retailers’ cooperative group of supermarkets and the fourth-largest cooperative of any kind in the United States.

Trigo facilitates the retrofitting existing full-size supermarkets and smaller format grocers into fully autonomous stores – think Amazon Go, but at your local supermarket. Retro-fitting existing physical stores takes about a month.

During the session between Trigo and Wakefern, Michael and Charlie discussed the roll out of frictionless checkouts, in-store shopper engagement and process automation. They discussed Trigo’s modular approach to automation challenges and how Wakefern envisions the modernized supermarket.

McWeeney claimed, “Wakefern puts innovation at the forefront of everything we do”.

They do so, by carving out funding every year and investing in consumer research to understand what consumers want and how they may respond to smart retail technology. Wakefern have brought together a committee that awards funding to projects. They also engage closely with universities, through student ‘hack-a-thons’ to identified emerging innovations.

McWeeney said, “we support and fund research into smart retail technology that will either grow the business or improve efficiencies”.

Gabay spoke specifically about how frictionless shopping is enhancing the customers’ experience. He noted, security and loss prevention protocols must be effective, without being a barrier. The computer vision is so sensitive, that even when a customer attempts to select two small items and conceal them in their hand, “those items can be identified and changed to the customer’s account”.

It takes less than 30 seconds for the purchase receipt to arrive in the customers app from purchase.

Individual weights of fruit and vegetables can be assessed using AI, enabling fresh produce, to offered.

No facial recognition or biometrics ever recorded, which enables consumer trust and adoption.

Trigo’s system offers value for retailers as well. Transactional data enables access to real time inventory and sales management. The system quickly detects ‘out-of-stock’, facilitates shrinkage management, proximity marketing and planogram compliance. Predictive inventory management enables retailers to more effectively plan to meet demand. Trigo, appears to go beyond simply frictionless checkouts.

The ’re-configuration’ of the Trigo set up in store, enables retailers to move products to new locations or have temporary ‘off-location’ promotional displays. The system also facilitates the retailers loyalty programs, digital discounting and coupons.

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NRF Retail Big Show 2023 summary – high tech, high touch

The National Retail Federation Retail ‘Big Show’ kicked off in New York on Sunday 15th January. Paul Zahra, Australian Retailers Association CEO and QUT Professor Gary Mortimer, Chair of the Australian Retailers Association Consumer Research Committee were there to capture and share the latest retail insights. Over almost four days, Zahra and Mortimer attended thirty industry presentations and conducted fifty store visits.

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