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Israeli Startup to Launch Checkout-Free Grocery in Europe (VIDEO REPORT)
Once shoppers scan the QR code at the store's entrance, they can begin shopping, as demonstrated at Trigo’s prototype supermarket in Tel Aviv on July 29. (Raymond Crystal)

Israeli Startup to Launch Checkout-Free Grocery in Europe (VIDEO REPORT)

Trigo partners with a major European supermarket chain, aims to compete directly with Amazon Go

The Israeli startup Trigo is set to compete directly with Amazon when it opens its first checkout-free grocery store in a European country later this year.

Founded in Tel Aviv in 2018, Trigo is collaborating with Tesco, a British supermarket giant – one of the world’s largest retail food chains – to begin rolling out its artificial intelligence (AI)-powered shopping platform.

“We are opening our first store this year,” Eli Gorovici, chief business officer at Trigo, told The Media Line. “We’ll complete the testing and integrate into their systems. We assume we’re going to roll out in Europe and around the world.”

Eli Gorovici, chief business officer at Trigo, shows The Media Line how the system works. (Raymond Crystal)

Using AI and computer vision, Trigo’s system uses a network of cameras mounted on a store’s ceiling to track customers in real time. Since vision has some limitations, shelves are equipped with weight sensors that can register when even the tiniest of items is picked up or replaced.

Notably, the platform can be added to existing shops.

Once a shopper enters a store, he or she scans a QR code onto a mobile device, grabs whatever items are needed and simply walks out the door. Minutes later, a receipt is issued to the same mobile device.

Trigo is still working to refine its system in beta testing in Europe and Israel at stores that are not yet open to the public, Gorovici said.

“The system is very, very accurate,” he affirmed.

Amazon Go, which is operated by the e-commerce giant Amazon, opened its first automated convenience stores in 2018. Dozens are now scattered around the United States. The firm is set to expand even further, with 30 additional brick and mortar shops in Europe, The Sunday Times reported.

Similar to Trigo, Amazon’s stores offer a checkout-free experience aided by dozens of ceiling cameras monitoring shoppers’ movements.

“The difference between us and Amazon: It’s a similar technology but they’re a retailer and have their own supermarket shop,” Gorovici explained. “We partner with their competitors – the largest supermarkets in the world.”

The difference between us and Amazon: It’s a similar technology but they’re a retailer and have their own supermarket shop. We partner with their competitors – the largest supermarkets in the world

With the coronavirus pandemic in full swing, many food retailers are looking for innovative ways to eliminate lines and cut down on crowding. According to Gorovici, the outbreak has in fact accelerated interest in the company’s platform.

There are other autonomous store checkout developers working to install their systems in supermarkets. They include the California-based startups Grabango and Standard Cognition. Both have raised tens of millions of dollars in funding to deploy their solutions.

As more and more stores adopt Trigo’s system, the company hopes the technology will enable customized recommendations similar to those seen in online shopping.

“In the last few years, there has been a very big revolution in AI and computer vision,” Daniel Gabay, chief technology officer at Trigo, told The Media Line.

“We understand everything that’s happening in this store,” he added.

We understand everything that’s happening in this store

“We have an entire ecosystem that understands what’s happening as you go through your shopping journey,” he explained, adding that they can all be used to enhance the shopping experience.

Trigo’s prototype supermarket in Tel Aviv. (Raymond Crystal)

While questions about consumer privacy might arise, Trigo argues that its platform does not employ facial recognition, assigning only a number to a shopper. AI then uses this number to create a shopping list based on what has previously been purchased.

“What we do is recognize the skeleton of the body,” Gorovici said. “We don’t look at the face. We don’t want to know who you are, so we look at your hands.”

Whatever else emerges from this new kind of supermarket, one thing is certain: Companies like Trigo and Amazon will forever change the face of grocery shopping.

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