- Wakefern Food plans to test frictionless checkout technology from Israeli computer vision firm Trigo at a supermarket operated by the East Coast retailer cooperative, the companies announced in a press release on Thursday.
- Trigo co-founder and CEO Michael Gabay said in an interview the pilot will take place in a store in New Jersey, but declined to specify the size of the location or the specific timeframe for the project.
- Wakefern is joining a growing number of retailers in the U.S. and elsewhere that are implementing systems that allow customers to avoid stopping at a checkout station for purchases.
A central question throughout the rollout of frictionless technology has been when it will arrive in larger stores.
Trigo is intent on scaling its technology so that store size does not present a hurdle, Gabay said. Without disclosing specifics, Gabay said the company plans to put its technology in a 10,000-square-foot store in 2022 and "much bigger stores in 2023."
Wakefern's announcement didn't address whether the retailer-owned cooperative aims to bring Trigo's technology to a full-size grocery store or test it in a smaller-format location. In the interview, Gabay declined to say whether the project involves retrofitting an existing store or developing a new location expressly to host Trigo's technology.
"By helping Wakefern convert some store formats, or develop new ones that are exclusive to their brands, we can help them accelerate their growth within the market and pave the way for frictionless shopping in the future," Gabay said in a statement about the arrangement, which represents its first collaboration with a retailer in the U.S.
Wakefern is comprised of nearly 50 member companies that independently run approximately 360 supermarkets under banners including ShopRite, The Fresh Grocer and Price Rite.
Trigo's deal with Wakefern follows announcements last year that it is working with European retailers to demonstrate its technology. Those projects include pilots at an approximately 4,300-square-foot store operated by German grocer Aldi Nord in Utrecht, the Netherlands, and a roughly 2,400-square-foot Tesco location in London. Trigo is also conducting a test at a store of an unspecified size run by German grocery chain Rewe in Cologne, Germany.
Gabay noted in the interview that stores that might be described as supermarkets in Europe would typically be defined as convenience stores in the United States.
"I think it's a very natural process to start in Europe in the smaller spaces and then now, after we already did that, to go to America, and now we have the ability to support much bigger stores. That's what we planned from the beginning," Gabay said.
Trigo is in competition with a host of companies that have developed frictionless checkout technology, including Grabango, Standard AI, Zippin and Amazon.
Standard and Grabango have both placed their equipment at several Circle K convenience stores in Arizona, and Grabango has also installed its technology at several Pittsburgh-area GetGo Cafe+Market convenience stores operated by Giant Eagle. In December, New York City's John F. Kennedy International Airport opened a store equipped with Zippin's checkout-free technology.
Amazon, meanwhile, has deployed its Just Walk Out technology at some of its Amazon Fresh stores, including a 25,000-square-foot supermarket in Bellevue, Washington, and a 40,000-store-foot location in La Habra, California. The company said it will include the technology in two new Whole Foods stores expected to open this year.