Cashierless shopping is afoot at Circle K
Circle K is retrofitting one of its stores with autonomous checkout technology.
The convenience retailer will pilot an artificial intelligence (AI)-based touchless checkout solution from Standard Cognition at a store located in the Phoenix area. Customers will be able to walk in, take what they like, and walk out, without having to scan anything or wait in line to pay. Circle K expects to eventually roll out the pilot to other stores.
While many convenience retailers have piloted cashierless stores since Amazon pioneered the format with its Amazon Go store model in January 2018, Circle K says it will be the first convenience chain to retrofit an existing store with autonomous checkout technology.
The retrofit will include integrating the Standard Cognition solution with Circle K’s existing systems and working with the current store layout, fixtures and lighting, as well as existing inventory management and replenishment processes. There will be no shelf sensors in the Circle K store.
Instead, the system will leverage ceiling-mounted cameras as well as proprietary AI and machine vision software to associate each shopper with the items they pick up, without using biometric data. Standard will also help Circle K design user experiences that balance operational efficiency, shopper satisfaction and financial optimization.
In the first store, Circle K customers will be able to choose to pay via a smartphone app, with cash or credit/debit card at a kiosk, or by visiting a traditional cashier station.
“Autonomous checkout is one of our innovation priorities that enable us to make our customers’ lives a little easier every day,” said Magnus Tägtström, head of global digital innovation at Circle K parent Alimentation Couche-Tard. “We thoroughly evaluated the market and realized that working with Standard presented significant benefits since they could integrate with our existing systems and retrofit our existing stores. We will not have to relocate merchandise, replace shelves or build an entirely new store to implement autonomous checkout.”
Canadian convenience retailer Alimentation Couche-Tard operates close to 14,500 Circle K stores in the U.S., Canada and 23 other countries.