Chartwells Higher Education to open 100 cashierless stores on U.S. campuses 

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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automated shopping
A shopper at the automated store on the University of Houston campus.

A dining services provider is opening automated convenience stores at colleges including San Jose State University.

Chartwells Higher Education is expanding a partnership with frictionless shopping technology provider Standard AI to launch 100 autonomous retail experiences at higher learning institutions across the U.S. The companies initially partnered in fall 2020 to retrofit an existing on-campus convenience store at the University of Houston for a completely touchless, cashierless shopping experience, known as “Market Next” at Technology Bridge.

The University of Houston store was equipped with Standard’s ceiling-mounted cameras and its proprietary artificial intelligence (AI) and machine-vision software that associates each shopper with the items they pick up to purchase, without using biometric data. Standard’s platform integrates with Chartwells’ existing mobile ordering app for seamless payment.

Standard AI-powered computer vision cameras also provide data and insights into product performance and shopping behavior, with the goal of enabling retailers to make efficient and effective adjustments based on consumers’ preferences and needs.

During summer 2022, Chartwells and Standard AI partnered on six new and revamped markets, including stores at San Jose State University, with the store at The University of Texas at Dallas coming soon. Within months of opening a fully-autonomous store at San Jose State University's Ginger Market, Chartwells reported the store achieved a 21% increase in store traffic and 23% increase in average transaction size.

“University students are truly the shoppers of tomorrow,” said Christopher Burr, VP of digital strategy, at Chartwells Higher Education. “The shift toward autonomous shopping that’s happening today at university campuses will fuel broader expansion of this technology into our neighborhoods and communities. Waiting in line is quickly becoming a relic of the past.”

 “We’re now at the watershed moment for autonomous retail: Retailers love the cost savings, support for labor challenges, and ability to accelerate growth. Shoppers love skipping the line, seamless payment options, and transactions in just seconds," said Jordan Fisher, co-founder and CEO, Standard AI. "Students in particular love frictionless, autonomous shopping for its speed and simplicity. We're excited to partner with Chartwells Higher Ed to roll this technology out to more students and faculty and more universities."

Frictionless shopping graduates beyond academia

Retailers outside of college campuses are also partnering with Standard AI to enable their stores for automated, frictionless shopping. For example, in October 2021, convenience retailer Circle K, a banner of conglomerate Alimentation Couche-Tard,began offering an artificial intelligence (AI)-based, fully checkout-free shopping experience in a Tempe, Ariz. store.

Circle K partnered with Standard AI to open its retrofitted Tempe location, featuring a frictionless checkout system designed to allow shoppers to completely avoid waiting in a checkout line and deliver accurate receipts in minutes.

The retailer worked with Standard AI to retrofit the Tempe location without ceasing store operations or altering its layout. Circle K and Standard AI initially announced the retrofit project in August 2020.