Giant Eagle has begun testing checkout-free technology from Grabango in what the companies said represents a first-of-its-kind partnership for a big supermarket retailer.
Pittsburgh-based Giant Eagle said yesterday that Grabango’s no-wait checkout platform has been deployed at a Giant Eagle store, and multiple applications of the payment technology are being tested. They include an app-based solution and another that “allows the customer to pay with any tender they choose,” the companies said.
Grabango’s system works as follows: Customers enter the store and start shopping as normal. Computer vision and machine learning technology track products selected by each customer, and a running total of the items each shopper takes is tallied as they proceed through the store. Customers can opt-in for coupon offers and/or product information as they shop. When finished, shoppers pay via the smartphone app and exit the store. They also can choose to pay the traditional way at the cashier. As they leave the store, customers can opt to receive digital receipts, which can be accessed as far back as a year.
“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, director of corporate communications at Giant Eagle, 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.”
Berkeley, Calif.-based Grabango, founded in 2016, noted that its automated checkout streamlines the payment process to reduce congestion and “virtually eliminate” lines, particularly at peak times. In addition, the company said, shoppers don’t have to pass through a turnstile (as at an Amazon Go store) or pay for a membership to use the system.
“Grabango’s platform has been deployed at a Giant Eagle retail location, and together we are optimizing the system in preparation for commercial service,” Andrew Radlow, chief marketing officer for Grabango, said in a blog post yesterday. “This partnership represents the first checkout-free technology partnership for a large grocery retailer for existing store locations in the United States.”
With annual sales of $8.9 billion, Giant Eagle operates 216 grocery stores under the Giant Eagle, Market District, Market District Express and Giant Eagle Express banners plus 258 convenience/fuel locations under the GetGo and Ricker’s banners in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland and Indiana.
Radlow said Giant Eagle’s multiple retail formats make it “an ideal development partner” for testing Grabango’s solution. “First, the range of store sizes under one banner — 3,000-square-foot GetGo convenience stores to Market District supermarkets greater than 100,000 square feet — makes for an ideal proving ground for Grabango’s enterprise-class technology,” he explained. “Second, Giant Eagle’s accomplished technology team firmly controls the technology that operates in their 474 retail locations and is capable of rapid deployment throughout the operation.”
For retailers, the platform also provides improved business information and analytics, since the entire store — including every product — is digitized for assessment and optimization, according to Grabango. That includes a time-stamped database of all shopping events, which can help retailers better manage their business and operations, the company said. All data is anonymized to protect customer privacy.
Grabango and Giant Eagle expect that once customers try the technology, its convenience will sway them to come into the store even when they know it’s busy. They cited a recent Forrester Research study finding that U.S. grocery shoppers’ top complaint is waiting in line at checkout.
“Giant Eagle has been a fantastic partner on this groundbreaking project,” commented Will Glaser, founder and CEO of Grabango and a co-founder of the Pandora Radio music streaming service. “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.”