Checkout-free technology provider Grabango has raised $39 million in Series B funding in an effort to help modernize the food retail industry by allowing shoppers to skip the checkout line.
With Grabango, visitors shop as usual and then skip the line by scanning the code in their Grabango app on the way out. Grabango’s solution uses computer vision technology to identify items as they are picked up. It counts those items and sends the receipt to the shopper’s phone after they leave the store.
The new capital accompanies additional store deployments with existing and new customers in 2021. To date, Grabango has signed five retail partners, each with more than $1 billion in revenue. Multistore deployments are underway at several.
Grabango has already proved that its technology works in a real-world environment at Giant Eagle, with more than 15,000 SKUs and tens of thousands of transactions each month since implementation last fall. Grabango’s system was installed with no disruption to store operations, using an automated process that's easily replicated across the chain. Given its success, Grabango will launch its checkout-free technology at four more Giant Eagle GetGo stores in the greater Pittsburgh area by the end of 2021.
“At Giant Eagle, our success over our 90-year history is founded in our commitment to service and innovation,” said Laura Karet, president and CEO of Giant Eagle. “In the past decade, we have experienced significant growth in using technology to advance how our customers shop with us in-store and online. Grabango is a key partner in what we will accomplish in the next 10 years. Since we first introduced their system last fall, we’ve seen GetGo customers embrace the technology and use it with enthusiasm. We’re excited to roll out this technology to additional GetGo locations in the coming months so more of our shoppers can enjoy the convenience of safely skipping the checkout line.”
Grabango will use some of the new capital to augment its development team. More than 70% of the technical employees in the company’s engineering group hold a PhD or other advanced degree. While fewer than 0.5% of candidates interested in the company go on to receive an offer, Grabango aims to hire more developers this year while maintaining its high standards.
“We pride ourselves on the accuracy of the system, and the ease with which it operates in the dynamic environment of a modern store,” said Will Glaser, founder and CEO of Grabango. “Wasting time in lines has always bothered me, and now we no longer have to endure it. The incredibly gifted Grabango team has built one of the great marvels of modern technology — so advanced that it feels like magic!”
The latest funding round was led by Commerce Ventures with participation from Founders Fund, Unilever Ventures, Honeywell Ventures and WIND Ventures.
“We evaluated nearly every company in the space and chose Grabango because they had the most robust technology, an approach that works in complex retail environments, and an incredible team. This combination is why they continue to pull away as the market leader,” said Matt Nichols, partner at San Francisco-based Commerce Ventures. “Incredibly, the $5.7 trillion grocery market had been left behind as tech innovation focused on other sectors. Grabango delivers a new level of convenience for shoppers and will transform the economics of grocery and convenience stores across the world.”
Berkeley, Calif.-based Grabango was founded in 2016 to provide checkout-free technology for existing large-scale store chains. Its system places no limits on who can enter the store, what can be sold there or how the shelving is configured. Grabango has filed 38 patents. According to the company, the earliest ones that predate public knowledge of checkout-free as a category have already been awarded.
Pittsburgh-based Giant Eagle operates more than 470 stores throughout western Pennsylvania, Ohio, northern West Virginia, Maryland and Indiana. The company is No. 37 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.