The Friday Checkout is a weekly column providing more insight on the news, rounding up the announcements you may have missed and sharing what’s to come.
Frictionless checkout technology has generated a lot of attention in the retail world. The equipment, which uses computer-vision and artificial intelligence to let shoppers walk out of stores without stopping to pay, allows retailers to speed customers through their locations, analyze people’s movements and track inventory.
Despite the promise the technology holds to help retailers serve convenience-focused consumers and track activity in their stores, only Amazon has managed to bring the automation wizardry to locations larger than a convenience store — but that could soon be about to change.
Israeli checkout-tech startup Trigo announced this week that it plans to tap $100 million it has raised to bring its gear to “full-sized” supermarkets, signaling that promises made by the company that its technology can operate in standard grocery stores might be poised to become a reality. That could help Trigo compete with Amazon, which has for months been including its Just Walk Out technology in every new location in its growing fleet of Amazon Fresh supermarkets.
Grabango, one of Trigo’s rivals in the frictionless checkout space, has also indicated that it is working to scale up its technology to go beyond the convenience stores, where it has publicly said its technology is currently operating. While the company has not revealed when it might make such an announcement, founder Will Glaser has said it is testing its equipment in full-sized grocery stores.
Other companies in the frictionless checkout space, like Standard, AiFi, Zippin and Mashgin, appear, for now, to be concentrating their efforts on smaller retail locations, which include shops on college campuses and in airports in addition to convenience stores. But with Amazon continuing to roll out Just Walk Out and others in the space aiming for larger stores, could frictionless checkout technology finally be ready to take a big step up?
In case you missed it
Taylor Swift is everywhere, including down your Market Basket grocery aisle.
The old-school grocer tapped into pop culture this week by posting a parody of the music star’s latest album “Midnights.” Market Basket’s album cover, which mimics Swift’s, lists the grocer's own punny takes on the album’s 13 tracks including “Lowell Haze,” “Sawdust on the Floor” and “Antipasto”— playing off of the hit song titles “Lavender Haze,” “Snow On The Beach” and “Antihero.”
If Market Basket were to drop an original album which song would you be most excited to listen to? pic.twitter.com/0ENqKA2BEH— Market Basket (@MarketBasket) October 24, 2022
Market Basket released their album mock-up of “Midnights” on Twitter Monday afternoon, but didn’t stop there. Their New England fan base can also enjoy the grocer’s “3 am edition” which features bonus tracks such as “The Great Tile Floor” and “Milk, Bread, Eggs” inspired by the original songs “The Great War” and “Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve.”
Without further ado, we present: Market Basket (3 am edition)— Market Basket (@MarketBasket) October 26, 2022
Featuring Bonus Tracks:
The Great Tile Floor
Cereal Boxes Bigger Than the Whole Aisle
Low Contrast Peach Analog Clock
Milk, Bread, Eggs
Valued Customers pic.twitter.com/4nQJVHLZnK
Market Basket was not the only company to lean into the trending new album. Shipt is also celebrating Swift’s 10th original studio album with a list of 13 must-have items for fans’ first listen. A number of the list’s products mirror the song titles, such as Ghirardelli’s Midnight Reverie chocolate and The Honey Pot’s lavender-scented bath bombs.
The Try Guys try Amazon Fresh
Amazon Fresh sponsored The Try Guys’ most recent YouTube video, using it as an opportunity to comedically and positively highlight what its stores offer as well as feature its Amazon Dash Cart technology.
The Try Guys were challenged to make a single-dish take on Thanksgiving dinner in an hour, and Amazon Fresh supplied all their ingredients as the comedians rushed around the store and used the Dash Cart. For the first seven minutes, The Try Guys video takes place in an Amazon Fresh store and has the men marveling over how quick and easy the checkout shopping carts are to use.
Many grocers have put more effort into their online social media presence through TikTok videos and even parodying albums, as seen above, to grab the attention and approval of millennial and Gen Z shoppers.
Sam’s Club AI pie technology
This holiday season, Sam’s Club is using its artificial intelligence technology for critical purposes— to ensure their 600 stores have enough pie for every club member.
Using their AI-embedded Fresh Sales app and machine learning technology model, the wholesaler is “able to predict (hourly in some cases) how many pies need to be stocked to keep up with member demand and reduce food waste,” according to a Thursday company blog post.
Sam’s Clubs’ machine learning technology takes into account elements that will affect suppliers, such as weather, events, holidays, shelf life and proper substitutions, per the press release.
The wholesaler also credits its new automated floor scrubbers with inventory scanning technology as it alerts associates when items are close to selling out. From there, as soon as the trucks arrive, its ClubIQ tool “prioritizes the order associates need to unload the pies and other items from the truck.”
Number of the week: $4 billion
That’s the approximate amount Albertsons’ shareholders are set to receive in early November from a special dividend that’s tied to the grocery company’s merger with Kroger. The size of the dividend has sparked concern from a group of bipartisan attorneys general and from several local unions, who claim that the $4 billion will reward investors at a time when Albertsons could put that money toward other endeavors, such as boosting worker wages or lowering costs. Albertsons has said the dividend will not strain its financial health.
Jobs report comes out
The latest employment figures for October from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics are set to come out on Nov. 4. In September, food and beverage stores added 2,700 jobs, down from the 14,600 added in August.
Windy City welcomes 2nd Dom’s Kitchen and Market
Grocery Dive Reporter Catherine Douglas Moran will be on the ground in Chicago for the opening of the newest store in the up-and-coming grocery chain being developed by longtime grocery executives Don Fitzgerald and Bob Mariano. Mariano, founder of the Mariano’s banner, which is now owned by Kroger, teamed up with Fitzgerald, a former Mariano’s executive, to launch Dom’s Kitchen and Market in 2020. A ribbon cutting for the store, which is located at 1233 N. Wells St., will be held on Tuesday.