German grocery giant REWE Group has opened that country’s first fully automated supermarket, complete with “group purchases.”
The retailer opened the store in partnership with Trigo, an Israel-based computer vision company that builds systems for autonomous checkout and retail analytics.
At the new “Pick&Go'' supermarket in the Bavarian capital Munich, customers can walk in, select their items off the shelves, and leave without having to pay at checkout. Unlike self-checkout devices such as stationary or mobile scanners and digital carts, Pick&Go shoppers only scan once on their phones when they enter the store. When they leave they get the receipt automatically.
Trigo’s computer vision algorithms — running off data produced by ceiling-mounted cameras and shelf sensors — create a 3D "digital twin" of the store. The system logs shoppers' movements inside the store and correlates that with data on items they pick from the shelves. The algorithms can also be used to monitor inventory levels in real time, and detect items that have been misplaced or stolen.
The system does not use facial recognition or any other biometric features, and complies with Germany’s strict data protection rules.
The German grocery giant, which operates more than 3,700 stores in Germany, has already successfully trialed and opened two Trigo-powered “Pick&Go'' grocery stores, starting in Cologne and then in Berlin. But unlike those stores, which allow shoppers to use conventional checkout if they want, the Munich store is fully cashierless. Customers can pay for their purchases via Paypal, Google Pay, Apple Pay or a credit card.
Other innovations unveiled at the Munich store include group purchases, where families, friends and colleagues can enter the store together, gather items, and walk out — with payment and invoicing going to the person whose QR code was used to enter the store.
Despite being fully automated, REWE’s Munich Pick&Go store will keep its full staff, who will assist customers and guide them through the experience, restock shelves, approve age-limited items and take care of other customer-facing activities.
In addition to REWE’s three stores, Trigo’s solutions are currently deployed in other grocers, including Wakefern Food Corp., the largest retailer-owned cooperative in the U.S., Tesco in the UK, Alldi Nord in the Netherlands, and Shufersal in Israel.
Frictionless shopping is gaining traction as grocery giants scramble to match consumer expectations for convenience, while keeping costs down and optimizing inventory and supply chains. Amazon’s expansion into cashierless grocery with its Amazon Fresh and Amazon Go formats is also a factor in the increasing interest in frictionless checkout.
“The first fully autonomous REWE store marks the beginning of the second test phase of REWE Pick&Go, the company’s innovation project,” said Peter Maly, managing director, Rewe Markt GmbH. “The two hybrid test markets have shown that autonomous shopping with REWE Pick&Go is an exciting, convenient, and time-saving alternative to traditional shopping.”