1. May 2023 | Retail Technology, Shopping Today, Visuals

AI for the ultimate convenience

by Sven Reck & Julia Pott (exclusively for EuroCIS.mag)

Enabling a comfortable “just-walk-out” shopping experience thanks to state-of-the-art technology: Viessmann presented such exactly this at EuroShop 2023 in Düsseldorf. Lithuanian company Pixevia provided the technologies to automate the processes and Viessmann the refrigerated cabinet hardware.

Jaime Gort-Oromi, Business Development Manager for Viessmann Refrigeration Solutions, gave us a tour of the store and explained how it works.

The Express Store by Viessmann and Pixevia at EuroShop 2023 from the outside; Copyright: Sven Reck/EuroShop.mag

© Sven Reck/EuroShop.mag

When entering the store, the customer deposits a payment method, such as a credit card. The project managers decided to forego their own app or any other form of registration, because “if you’re thirsty and you’re entering the shop, you don’t want to start downloading applications or wondering whether the information is in your language before you get your drink.”

A look inside the Express Store; Copyright: Viessmann

© Viessmann

Inside, cameras in combination with shelf weight sensors record which items are removed or also put back. The artificial intelligence in the background summarizes this information in real time and assigns it to the individual in the store.

Photo of the monitoring software; Copyright: Sven Reck/EuroShop.mag

© Sven Reck/EuroShop.mag

The monitoring software recognizes individuals and can track them through the store, but – as the image shows – without identifying them and without storing personal characteristics. Thus, the process is compliant with data protection laws.

Shopping together as a group is also no problem, Gort-Oromi assured us: “You can also enter with your family, and then all the units will be put into the same virtual basket. So, for instance, if you enter with your wife and your kids, even if you separate inside the store, everything that each individual picks up for themselves is going to be linked to that credit card.“

The products with the prices are listed on a screen; Copyright: Sven Reck/EuroShop.mag

© Sven Reck/EuroShop.mag

At the end of the purchase, the selected products are listed on a screen with the prices. Then the customer can simply accept the payment and walk out. A receipt can also be printed. Afterwards, the customer can simply walk out. The total amount is collected via the payment method specified at the beginning.

Mindaugas Eglinskas, CEO of Pixevia, sees great potential for this type of solution and technology in retail: “Smaller smart stores just around the corner are a great alternative to large supermarkets in remote areas. Moreover, they fit better with the habits of the modern consumer.”

The filled shelves and refrigerated units in the Express Store; Copyright: Sven Reck/EuroShop.mag

© Sven Reck/EuroShop.mag

The autonomous Express Store with its convenient shopping experience not only has advantages for customers. Gort-Oromi also showed what operators or retailers get out of it. On the one hand, the store can be operated seven days a week, 24 hours a day without staff.

On the other, the system can also be used in a hybrid way. In other words, it can support in-store operations in such a way that staff have time for other, more important tasks. Automated real-time inventory, for example, saves employees valuable time and allows them to replenish shelves exactly as needed by receiving a notification on a mobile device. “The system gives you the security that you are always 100 percent supplied,” said Gort-Oromi.

In addition, the system provides valuable insights, he explained: “You’ll get a lot of data: What is on which shelf? How much are you selling? At what point in the store do you sell more or less?”

A major strength of the system, Gort-Oromi emphasized several times, is the flexibility it offers operators. Looking to the future, this is an enormous advantage: “I think, there’s not going to be a single solution that will dominate the market, and that’s probably a good thing because there is not one suit that fits everybody. There will always be different needs and they differ even from city to city. That’s why we chose this system because it is flexible, and that flexibility is what allows us to answer whichever needs will arise in the market in the coming years.”

We, too, are curious to see which store formats – whether staffed, unstaffed or hybrid – will emerge as successful and in demand in the coming years. Requirements and shopping habits are diverse and ever-changing. The search for suitable solutions will certainly not be boring.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Related Articles