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Cashierless convenience-store retail comes to Southern California

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A new autonomous convenience store format is debuting in a Santa Ana, Calif. luxury complex.

The cashierless c-store, operated by foodservice/facility management provider Aramark, is located in Greenwood & McKenzie’s Nineteen01 luxury apartment community in Santa Ana. The first store of its type in the Southern California market, Quick Eats Close Convenience uses computer vision cameras and sensors to provide a fully automated, frictionless, self-guided shopping experience.

Shoppers download the QuickEats Close Convenience app, scan the app at the store entrance, and conduct their shopping. As customers grab items off the shelves, they are added to the app's shopping cart. When customers finish shopping, they exit the store, and are automatically charged the total amount to their digital wallet and receive an emailed receipt. The shopping experience does not include any checkout lines or payment terminals.

To develop the concept, Aramark partnered with AWM, an artificial intelligence (AI) and computer vision company with a suite of retail solutions, using the tech vendor’s AWM Frictionless system. AWM Frictionless uses deep learning algorithms and high-definition cameras throughout the store to track traffic and detect when customers interact with products. The technology learns from shoppers to ensure the store is adding more of what they want and less of what they don't quickly.

The convenience store features a variety of fresh and specialty items, including grab-and-go sandwiches, cheese plates, and fruit as well as assorted beverages. In addition, it offers household items like cleaning products, toilet paper, and dog food. The store is currently open to the public from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Plans are underway for tenants, who currently have access to the store from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., to have 24-hour service in the future.

"In today's environment, QuickEats Close Convenience offers customers a truly autonomous shopping experience that is safe, convenient and contactless, simply by downloading the app and swiping their smartphone," said Gary Crompton, president of Aramark business dining. "We are excited to partner with Greenwood & McKenzie in delivering this innovative concept to their tenants and look forward to opening the store to the broader Santa Ana community."

"We first launched QuickEats in March for our tenants at Nineteen01, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive," said Greenwood & McKenzie general partner Jim McKenzie. "Our tenants were able to socially distance while buying necessities without having to leave the property. By partnering with Aramark, a global leader in food and facilities management and the creator of QuickEats Close Convenience, and utilizing AWM Frictionless technology, we are able to offer consumers a fast, easy, and safe shopping experience."

Since Amazon pioneered the cashierless/frictionless convenience and grocery store format with Amazon Go in January 2018, retailers including 7-Eleven and Ahold Delhaize have piloted their own cashierless store formats. In addition, retailers including Cibo Express have licensed the “Just Walk Out” technology supporting Amazon Go. The introduction of QuickEats is another sign that automated brick-and-mortar retailing is a trend that should only grow over time. 

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