Circle K’s new self-checkouts are kicking barcode scanners to the curb
Alimentation Couche-Tard yesterday said it will deploy more than 10,000 self-checkout machines in 7,000-plus Circle K and Couche-Tard convenience stores over the next three years. The artificial intelligence-powered machines use computer vision to recognize and ring up items without the use of barcodes.
The decision to scale the “Smart Checkout” technology was made after a successful pilot across nearly 500 Circle K locations in the U.S. and Sweden. The technology was also tested at Couche-Tard’s retail innovation lab location at McGill University in Montreal.
The self-checkouts are installed on existing countertop space in stores. Customers place the products they wish to purchase on the device and cameras recognize and tally the transaction in under a second, according to the convenience store giant and Mashgin, the tech provider.
“We’re committed to investing in and scaling technology that sets a new standard for convenience with our customers and advances our mission to make our customers’ lives a little easier every day,” Magnus Tägtström, vice president, global innovation at Couche-Tard, said in a statement.
The technology, which promises 99.9 percent accuracy, offers a number of benefits, including shortening lines, improving the customer experience and freeing up associates to help customers. The system is compatible with the retailer’s loyalty program, allows for fuel purchases and enables customers to pay with cash if they prefer.
The AI-powered devices are able to recognize foodservice items and have the ability to learn new objects in under a minute. information on new items is then synced across a retailer’s store network.
Eighty percent of Circle K customers surveyed after using the self-checkouts prefer it to being rung up by a person or using other types of technology to check themselves out of the store.
“We’ve been hearing great feedback from our customers in the stores where Smart Checkout has been introduced, and it’s easy to see why,” said Alex Miller, executive vice president operations, North America, and global commercial optimization for Couche-Tard. “Through this agreement, I am convinced that we will scale a great tool that makes it easy for our customers and team members, saving time and putting our customers and people first in our global operations.”
- Alimentation Couche-Tard to roll out “Smart Checkout” to more than 7,000 Circle K and Couche-Tard stores across global network using Mashgin’s AI-powered technology – Alimentation Couche-Tard
- Mashgin Now at Circle K – YouTube
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What impact do you think the new self-checkout technology being scaled at Circle K and Couche-Tard will have on those chains’ customers, associates and operational performance? How do you expect c-store rivals of the two chains to react?