As autonomous checkout technology continues to spread in food and other parts of retail, the race is on to win funding and gain further footing in this part of the industry. The latest example comes from Standard Cognition.
The autonomous checkout technology provider has raised $150 million in a Series C funding round led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2 with participation from existing investors CRV, EQT Ventures, and TI Platform Management, along with new investors SK Networks and others.
The funding enables Standard, whose technology has now been proven in multiple customer implementations, to execute at scale, the company said.
Standard Cognition says it is working with customers such as Alimentation Couche-Tard, Inc. (parent company of global convenience store brand “Circle K”) and Compass Group to outfit hundreds of checkout-free stores in 2021 and beyond, with a goal of more than 50,000 stores in the next five years.
“The physical retail industry must accelerate its pace of digital transformation to better compete with online players,” said Serena Dayal, investment director at SoftBank Investment Advisers. “We believe Standard is emerging as a clear leader for autonomous checkout, driven by advanced AI-powered technologies. We are excited to partner with the Standard leadership team as they aim to accelerate deployment of checkout-free technology with retailers seeking to improve their customers’ shopping experience.”
Food retailers are rushing to offer frictionless checkout experiences as the consumer base becomes ever more mobile and digital.
“Retailers find themselves in the midst of a perfect storm, as they struggle for razor-thin margins, battle the likes of Amazon and Walmart, and are beaten down by COVID-19,” said Jordan Fisher, co-founder and CEO of Standard. “As stores across the world shut their doors, retailers and their customers have waited for a technology like computer vision to help drive the industry forward. This new category will be bigger than mobile or the Internet. It is the most disruptive thing to happen to retail in decades.”
Using AI-powered cameras and software, computer vision is changing the way people interact with the physical world. Computer vision and AI are ultimately going to have an impact that goes far beyond retail — autonomous driving, manufacturing, offices, gyms — to fundamentally alter and better the way we live.
"Checkout-free technology has brought a new experience to our retail environment. Through our partnership with Standard, we've transformed a current store into a completely frictionless operation, and we're excited to retrofit more stores in the near future," said Charles Pereira, VP of Operations for Chartwells Higher Ed, a division of Compass Group.
Standard is the leading computer vision platform retailers use to quickly transform stores into checkout-free experiences. Its AI-driven computer vision solution enables people to shop without waiting in line, scanning or stopping to pay. Consisting primarily of ceiling-mounted cameras that can detect which items a person picks up, Standard’s system uses no facial recognition and lets shoppers remain completely anonymous. It can be easily installed in existing stores without making any changes to layout, shelving, lighting or inventory management processes.
In recent months, Standard has landed significant new customers including Circle K, and worked with customer Compass Group to open its first public stores at the University of Houston and in office buildings in Charlotte and Toronto. With Standard’s solution in place, retailers can offer low-touch shopping and a better customer experience. For shoppers, checkout-free means no lines, better customer service, and a more enjoyable in-store visit.
“With our computer vision models perfected and our first store retrofits complete, Standard has developed a playbook for implementations that we are using to significantly scale our operations,” said Fisher. “There is no shortage of demand for Standard’s solutions — and this funding will help us bring our platform to retailers and shoppers across the world.”
Standard’s outside counsel for the transaction was Covington and Burling LLP.