- Giant Eagle is installing autonomous shopping technology at four more of its GetGo Cafe+Market convenience stores in the Pittsburgh area, according to an announcement on Wednesday from Grabango, the computer vision company that is supplying the equipment.
- The addition of the frictionless checkout systems to the stores, located in Ross Township, Wexford, Cranberry Township and Mars, Pennsylvania, follows Giant Eagle's initial deployment of Grabango's technology at a single GetGo location last year.
- Giant Eagle is a key partner for Grabango as the Berkeley, California-based startup looks to build its presence in the fledgling market for systems that allow customers to avoid checkout counters.
Giant Eagle's decision to bring Grabango's gear to more of its convenience stores represents a significant step ahead in Grabango's quest to stand out in the emerging market for autonomous shopping capabilities.
The technology-minded grocery chain became the first retailer to commercially deploy Grabango's technology last September after it finished a test that began in 2019 of the system in a 3,000-square-foot GetGo store.
The rollout to additional stores follows user surveys finding 88% of shoppers have high satisfaction with the technology and more than 80% of visits are from repeat shoppers. Grabango said the new GetGo stores getting its technology, which uses arrays of cameras and artificial intelligence to track items as shoppers take them from shelves and charge people's accounts upon departure, were selected because they are close to the first location equipped with the system.
In June, Grabango announced that it had raised $39 million in Series B funding, adding to the $12 million it brought in from investors in January 2019.
But in the time since Giant Eagle moved ahead with its first store fitted with Grabango's system, rivals have also made strides as they angle for interest from investors. One of those competitors, Zippin, announced on Wednesday that it has brought in $30 million in Series B funding, pushing its total funding from investors to more than $45 million.
Standard Cognition, another player in the autonomous checkout space, announced in February it took in $150 million from investors in a Series C round, pushing its valuation to $1 billion. Israeli startup Trigo, which also markets computer vision-based autonomous checkout technology, has raised more than $100 million to fund its efforts.
As Grabango and its competitors boost their funding, they face the steep challenge of standing out against Amazon, which has been bringing its own camera vision-based checkout technology to more retail locations and also offers it to other retailers.
Notably, Amazon is operating its system, known as Just Walk Out, in stores that are much larger than the convenience stores that other companies in the frictionless checkout space have been focusing on. The retailer's 25,000-square-foot Amazon Fresh store in Bellevue, Washington, which opened in June, is equipped with its autonomous checkout technology, as is a Fresh location Amazon opened in Washington, D.C., in July.