- Frictionless checkout startup Standard AI plans to cover the costs of outfitting at least one existing convenience store with its computer vision-based shopping technology, CEO Jordan Fisher said in an interview.
- The company will begin accepting applications from store operators interested in winning its financial support next week, and plans to settle on a retailer to work with by the end of the year, according to a Standard spokesperson.
- Standard is stepping up its efforts to attract retailers as it faces mounting competition from other companies vying to place checkout-free technology in brick-and-mortar stores.
Footing the bill for a retailer to install its equipment reflects Standard's push to introduce frictionless checkout technology to retailers that might not have the resources to do so themselves, Fisher said.
"Especially on the smaller end of the retailer [spectrum], we really want to take one of their stores and do that transformation in partnership with them," Fisher said, in order to "prove to small retailers out there that this is feasible for them ... this isn't just for Amazon and Walmart and Tesco."
Standard will be looking for a retailer that is "passionate about transformations" and that reflects the tech company's sense about where its equipment fits best in the retail landscape at this stage, Fisher said.
"We want to make sure that we're picking [a partner] that is going to prove to us that the technology is ready to go to other mid-sized retailers, so we're not looking for someone who's super unique in terms of the way their stores look," he said. "We want stores that are going to be representative of what the real convenience store industry looks like."
Standard is currently working with large retailers including Compass and Circle K, and has been focusing its business on stores that occupy between 500 and 3,000 square feet. The company intends eventually to bring its automation technology to larger retail environments, but will devote itself to the convenience store channel for the foreseeable future, Fisher said.
"It's going to take a decade-plus to really transform the global retail world. Grocery will likely be next after convenience, but I anticipate that it's a couple of years out before we go there. There's just so much meat with convenience [that] we're going have our hands full for a little bit," said Fisher.
Standard executives said extending their technology to smaller retail chains is central to their strategy.
"It may seem a little surprising for a CFO to say I support this initiative [where] we're in some ways giving some amount of our technology away for free … but we do want to make sure that what we're developing is as accessible as possible to everyone in the long term," said Jennifer Haroon, who recently joined Standard as chief financial officer after serving in senior executive roles for Nauto, which uses computer vision technology to help help drivers avoid collisions.
Standard also recently hired Angie Westbrock, former vice president of global operations for Lyft, as chief operating officer. Prior to joining Lyft, Westbrock served as chief operating officer for personalized nutrition company Habit and started operations on the West Coast for HelloFresh.
Standard is competing for attention from retailers with several other companies, including Trigo, Grabango, Zippin and Amazon. Fisher said he welcomes Amazon's efforts to expand its Just Walk Out technology, which competes with Standard's, to more stores.
"I view Amazon as a great proof of concept. They announced Amazon Go just as we were starting Standard, which for us was great. When you're starting a company, tackling technology this complex, there's definitely a little bit of fear that you might not be able to pull it off, and seeing Amazon do it you know for us was just all of the convincing we needed that we could do it," Fisher said.
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated when Standard will begin accepting applications from retailers. The application period will start next week.