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10/13/2021

Circle K retrofits store with cashierless checkout

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Circle K is moving ahead with its frictionless shopping program.

Circle K is now offering an artificial intelligence (AI)-based, fully checkout-free shopping experience in a Tempe, Ariz. store.

The convenience retailer is partnering with retail computer vision platform provider 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.

Circle K worked with Standard AI to retrofit the Tempe location without ceasing store operations or altering its layout. The retailer was able to integrate the Standard AI computer vision platform fully with its store’s retail operations, including inventory management and visual merchandising systems.

Using AI-powered cameras mounted at strategic locations throughout the store, the Standard AI system identifies the products shoppers pick up and automatically records the purchases on the Circle K mobile app, eliminating time spent at traditional checkout areas.

In addition, the new autonomous checkout system frees up associates to devote more time to customer service and store management. The Standard AI platform is designed to work without ever using facial recognition, which helps protect customer privacy. Circle K and Standard AI initially announced the retrofit project in August 2020.

Many convenience retailers have piloted cashierless stores since Amazon pioneered the format with its Amazon Go store model in January 2018. In another recent example, Fremont, Calif.-based Loop Neighborhood is expanding an existing partnership with autonomous shopping platform provider AiFi to introduce the vendor’s computer vision, camera-only platform to its existing stores in California, starting with two Bay Area locations. Leveraging the AiFi solution, Loop Neighborhood provides customers the option to check out with a cashier or scan their LoopAutoCheckout QR code upon entering the store so they can purchase items without waiting in line. 

"We are continually exploring ways to introduce technology that empowers our teams and shows our commitment to be a leader in retail innovation," said Deborah Hall Lefevre, Couche-Tard CTO. "In Montreal, we built and opened our first frictionless location. In Arizona, we are going the next step by retrofitting existing stores with autonomous self-checkout systems to gain further insights into how frictionless technology can both make it easy and save time for our customers and allow our team members to focus on delivering a great experience. At all times, the privacy of our customers' data is our highest priority."

“At Circle K, we are committed to using innovation to improve the customer experience,” said Magnus Tägtström, head of global digital innovation at Couche-Tard. “We are excited about using autonomous systems to support our in-store team members and deliver a better customer experience for shoppers.” 

“We are excited to partner with Circle K to open the first of a series of autonomous checkout experiences in Arizona that truly enhances the customer experience,” said Jordan Fisher, CEO and co-founder, Standard AI. “This is a groundbreaking moment for our company and its mission to shape the way people shop for years to come.”

Alimentation Couche-Tard operates close to 14,500 Circle K stores in the U.S., Canada and 23 other countries.