Students can ditch checkout at Univ. of Houston campus store

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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A new convenience store on the University of Houston campus offers a real-world education in cashierless shopping.

Working with dining services partner Chartwells Higher Education, the University of Houston is deploying checkout-free technology from Standard to retrofit an existing on-campus convenience store for a completely touchless, cashierless shopping experience. Now known as “Market Next” at Technology Bridge, the 24-hour store opened Thursday, Oct. 8.

The store sells an assortment including snacks, coffee, beverages, microwavable items, and sandwiches. Customers can walk in, take what they like, and walk out - without ever having to scan anything or wait in line to pay.  According to Standard, the fastest full shopping trip recorded with its camera-based Standard platform is 2.3 seconds.

Convenience chain Circle K is also currently retrofitting an existing store with Standard autonomous checkout technology. Many other convenience retailers have also piloted cashierless stores since Amazon pioneered the format with its Amazon Go store model in January 2018.

The university and Chartwells were able to retrofit the Market Next store for the Standard platform without making any changes to shelving, lighting, layout, or inventory management processes. The 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.

“Checkout-free technology is an innovation that will make our students’ lives a little easier and a lot safer. This is the new standard for campus safety that is important to students today and for the foreseeable future,” said Emily Messa, associate vice chancellor and associate VP for administration at the University of Houston. “That’s why we will plan to convert additional Market stores on campus to this technology in the coming year.”

“Students’ tastes change constantly, and we’re well equipped to handle that. But their shopping preferences evolve too, and we want to continue providing new and unique shopping experiences that are unexpected on a college campus,” said David Riddle, VP of operations for Chartwells Higher Ed, district manager for UH system dining. “This is the future of shopping, and with autonomous checkout through Standard, we’ve made it as easy, safe and convenient as possible for students to come in, get what they need, and go.”

Chartwells is actively working with Standard to retrofit a series of stores across North America.