Tech is turbocharging self-checkout grocery stores

A number of tech companies -- Grabango, Amazon Fresh, WalkOut, Main Street Market -- are rolling out some form of self-checkout technology for grocery stores.

June 15, 2021

The TV show Supermarket Sweep has been on and off the air since the 1960s.

Every version of the show has a game called “the Big Sweep”: Teams race through grocery stores, trying to cram their carts with pricey goods or giant inflatables.

And thanks to the increased demand for grocery pickup and delivery, retail employees are having a Big Sweep of their own.

One Fred Meyer employee’s job…

… is to grab each online order item within 30 seconds and find 95% of every customer’s list, per The New York Times.

To keep up, stores are:

  • Building warehouses staffed by robots
  • Using devices that chart the quickest path through the aisles (though they’re not always accurate)

And tech is changing the game for in-store customers, too:

  • Grabango — which just raised $39m in Series B funding — makes shopping checkout-free. Ceiling cameras catch what shoppers put in their cart. Shoppers pay by scanning an app when they leave.
  • At Amazon Fresh stores, shoppers push the Dash Cart through a special lane where sensors tally items and charge whatever credit card shoppers use with Amazon.
  • Israeli startup WalkOut retrofits existing carts into smart carts that tally items, then scan the list to self-checkouts, traditional checkouts, e-wallets, or grocer apps, while also displaying promotions or shopping suggestions.
  • Main Street Market in Minnesota charges customers $75 for an annual membership, which gets them 24/7 access, even after staff has gone home. Customers pay with an app or self-checkout.

Now, please enjoy this Supermarket Sweep epic fail.

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