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11/02/2021

Circle K continues cashierless checkout retrofits

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Circle K is retrofitting six stores in the Tucson, Ariz. area to enable checkout-free shopping (Graphic: Business Wire).

Circle K is bringing checkout-free shopping to six stores in the greater Tucson, Ariz. area.

The convenience retailer has retrofitted the six existing stores with checkout-free technology from Grabango. Shoppers skip the traditional checkout line, and instead scan the Grabango app when they’re done shopping. Receipts are delivered in the Grabango app for a seamless shopping experience.

The Grabango solution does not use facial recognition technology. Instead, it utilizes computer vision and machine learning to track shopped items. All data is anonymized to protect customer privacy.

This is not Circle K’s first effort at retrofitting a store with a frictionless shopping platform. In October 2021, Circle K began offering an artificial intelligence (AI)-based, fully checkout-free shopping experience in a Tempe, Ariz. store.

Circle K partnered with retail computer vision platform provider Standard AI to open its retrofitted Tempe location, featuring a frictionless checkout system designed to allow shoppers to completely avoid waiting in a checkout line and deliver accurate receipts in minutes. The retailer worked with Standard AI to retrofit the Tempe location without ceasing store operations or altering its layout. Circle K and Standard AI initially announced the retrofit project in August 2020.

Many convenience and grocery retailers have piloted cashierless stores since Amazon pioneered the format with its Amazon Go store model in January 2018. Regional supermarket retailer Giant Eagle has been piloting Grabango technology for the past two years, with multiple executions of the technology being optimized, including an app-based solution and another that allows the customer to pay with any tender they choose

In another recent example, Fremont, Calif.-based Loop Neighborhood is expanding an existing partnership with autonomous shopping platform provider AiFi to introduce the vendor’s computer vision, camera-only platform to its existing stores in California, starting with two Bay Area locations. Leveraging the AiFi solution, Loop Neighborhood provides customers the option to check out with a cashier or scan their LoopAutoCheckout QR code upon entering the store so they can purchase items without waiting in line. 

“I’m thrilled to announce that we’re working with Circle K and its parent company, Alimentation Couche-Tard, on the largest rollout of checkout-free retrofits to date,” said Will Glaser, CEO of Grabango. “Couche-Tard is a sophisticated global partner that’s a leader in delivering technology to benefit its customers. Together, we’re fulfilling the promise of making convenience stores more convenient.”

“We are passionate about exploring technology that empowers our store teams and helps make our customers’ lives a little easier every day,” said Magnus Tägtström, head of global digital innovation at Circle K parent company Couche-Tard. “We’re looking forward to seeing Grabango’s autonomous checkout solution support our ongoing efforts to make the store experience as seamless and frictionless as possible for our on-the-go customers.”

Alimentation Couche-Tard operates close to 14,500 Circle K stores in the U.S., Canada and 23 other countries.