Checkers SA Reveals No-Till Shop Running on AI and Machine Vision

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Image sourced from Shoprite Holdings.

South African retail mainstay Shoprite has revealed that it is testing an automated Checkers concept store that features no cashiers and no till points – effectively “a check-out less store.”

The concept store is being called ‘Checkers Rush’, which is billed as a “no queues, no checkout, no waiting” shop for groceries.

Checkers Rush was revealed in a new promotional video for Shoprite X – the company’s new digital innovation unit:

“Using advanced AI camera technology to identify the products being taken off the shelves, Checkers Rush bills users’ bank cards upon exit,” says Neil Schreuder, Chief of Strategy and Innovation at Shoprite X.

Right now the concept shop is only available to staff at Shoprite X offices near the company’s home office, above Checkers Hyper Brackenfell in Cape Town. The Shoprite X offices house a team of 250 people currently comprised of a collection of data scientists, e-commerce experts and others working with an IT team of more than 1,000 to “to create and implement new innovations,” the company says.

How does Checkers Rush work?

The concept of Checkers Rush is shown off in the video – firstly, prospective customers will need to have a dedicated Checkers Rush app to check in with via scanning their smartphones upon a turnstile.

The Checkers Rush app as it appears in the showcase video. Image sourced from Business Insider.

Then the shopper needs to simply walk along the product aisles and pick up whatever it is they need, and then simply check out of the store via a wall-mounted touchless button. The app will then charge your account immediately for the products you are taking. No need for a cashier or till slips.

Respective machine vision-enabled cameras use advanced AI to determine which products a shopper had taken from the shelf, which are then sent to the app for billing. A quick glimpse of the Checkers Rush app also shows a “dispute” button, which could be used for disputing if the AI has chosen a product for you that you haven’t picked.

Grab and Go Stores

The “grab and go” retail store was initially popularised by Amazon with Amazon Go, which uses cameras to track what shoppers pick up (and what they put back) with no need to scan barcodes or deal with human cashiers. These types of stores are marketed based on speed and convenience to urban customers.

Shops like Checkers Rush would be great fits for places that require quick and simple shopping experiences, like university campuses, office parks or car garages. However, according to Business Insider, grab and go stores are also being used in rural areas in Europe where the cost of having to pay staff salaries make the stores unviable.

It is doubtful that these kinds of stores will be able to replace hyper-market-like shopping experiences and are only really useful for people who need a few items at a time. Integration in supermarkets as “express” or “Few Items Only” tills would be something that could occur though, but having advanced AI-enabled cameras across large supermarkets would be very expensive.


By Luis Monzon
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