- Metropolitan Market, one of the five grocery banners under Good Food Holdings, has teamed up with Focal Systems to deploy an operating system that digitizes ordering, inventory management and merchandising, according to an emailed press release.
- Together, the two companies will pilot hundreds of shelf cameras that use computer vision to scan product levels hourly and automate product ordering.
- Metropolitan Market’s automating on-shelf inventory tracking promises to improve replenishment, reduce waste and feed valuable sales data back to the retailer.
Metropolitan Market is aiming to boost the accuracy of its inventory management and forecasting while minimizing labor typically spent on daily shelf scanning duties.
With the small cameras scanning items on the shelves, Focal System’s operating system, called FocalOS, will use that data to automate processes such as ordering and hourly shelf scans. The technology aims to reduce the manual tasks involved in searching for and replenishing out-of-stocks, while also cutting down on food waste with more precise inventory management, per the announcement.
Francois Chaubard, CEO and founder of Focal Systems, said in a statement that the use of computer vision and artificial intelligence software is gaining steam in the grocery industry and that early adopters, like Metropolitan Market, will see enhanced customer experience and staffing outcomes.
“In a rapidly evolving world, it’s our duty to continue innovating in order to provide the best possible experience for shoppers at all of our locations. Through our partnership with Focal Systems and their self-driving store, we’ll be able to remain the leading independent grocer in the region,” Ron Megahan, CEO of Metropolitan Market, said in the announcement.
Metropolitan Market has nine locations in Washington with a tenth location in the works, according to the announcement.
Founded in 2015, Focal Systems already has partnerships with Walmart Canada and Midwestern chain Piggy Wiggly. In September, Walmart Canada announced a pilot with Focal Systems that now reaches more than 400 locations.
The company has raised roughly $40 million to date and has more than 100,000 cameras deployed across hundreds of stores, according to the announcement.
Improving shelf and inventory management is a hot topic for grocers for numerous reasons — to tackle food waste issues, boost dynamic pricing opportunities and reduce time spent by associates keeping track of out-of-stocks. Improved shelf tracking can also produce data that feeds into retailers’ budding advertising operations.
Google Cloud recently unveiled its AI-driven technology that retailers can use to automatically track products on shelves. Kroger has newly partnered with Google Cloud to use its AI and machine learning tech to track products, monitor staffing levels and manage other tasks.