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Giant Eagle, Grabango Partner on Checkout-Free Technology

Alliance to bring Amazon Go-like experience to existing food retail stores
Photograph courtesy of Grabango

Giant Eagle is flying toward checkout-free shopping.

The Pittsburgh-based multiformat retailer has announced a partnership with Grabango, a Berkeley, Calif.-based startup providing technologies to outfit existing retail stores with computer vision allowing for checkout-free shopping.

The partnership is Grabango’s first to be announced with a U.S. food retailer. Founded by Pandora’s co-founder Will Glaser, Grabango is among several companies angling to revolutionize grocery with technologies that resemble those utilized in groundbreaking Amazon Go stores. Trigo Vision, an Israel-based company with a similar offer, recently said it would expand in partnership with the British retailer Tesco.

Grabango said its platform—which utilizes proprietary, ceiling-mounted cameras and software to track items as shoppers take them from shelves and assigns each shopper a “virtual basket”—has been installed at a pilot Giant Eagle location. The solution is designed as a “enterprise class platform” to operate across Giant Eagle’s multiformat footprint.

In a recent interview with WGB, Andrew Radlow, chief marketing officer at Grabango, said the technology would allow for an affordable solution that will save shoppers time and carry potential benefits that go beyond potential labor savings for retailers, including inventory monitoring and shrink reduction.

“Giant Eagle is committed to advancing technologies that create an improved, stress-free shopping experience for our customers while still protecting their privacy,” Dan Donovan, Giant Eagle’s director of corporate communications, said in a statement. “In Grabango, we have found a partner who shares our commitment and who can help us bring this enhanced experience to life.”

“Giant Eagle has been a fantastic partner on this groundbreaking project,” added Glaser, Grabango’s CEO. “We are excited to be announcing our first checkout-free partnership with a major U.S. retailer. Together, we are offering a technology that is seamless and equitable for all.”

According to a recent study conducted by Forrester Research, waiting in the checkout line is the top complaint among U.S. grocery shoppers. Giant Eagle and Grabango said they hope to provide a remedy for this consistent pain point through a frictionless solution. Multiple retailers currently offer solutions to speed checkouts utilizing customers to scan items as they go.

With Grabango’s checkout-free technology, customers will enter the store and immediately start shopping as they normally would—without any hurdles, such as turnstiles. The system assigns each shopper a virtual basket and keeps a running total. Shoppers using an app associated with a payment card can walk out; others may with pay with cash but needn’t have their items scanned at a register.

Items sold by weight and items requiring identification checks, such as alcohol, may still require interaction with a checker under Grabango’s system, Radlow said.

Giant Eagle operates more than 460 supermarkets and convenience stores in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland and Indiana. It has about $8.9 billion in annual sales and is ranked at No. 24 on WGB's Power 25 list of the nation's top food retailers.

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