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Dollar General Testing Checkout-Free Operations in North Carolina

Discount retailer piloting cashierless store that uses Amazon-like technology from startup AiFi
Marian Zboraj, Progressive Grocer
Dollar General self checkout
While Dollar General is currently focused on self-checkout, it is piloting a store with frictionless technology.

A Dollar General store in Banner Elk, N.C., is experimenting with cashierless technology, as reported by Insider. Customers at this location don't have to stand in line or deal with a self-checkout kiosk at the end of their visit. Instead, they can simply walk out with their purchases – similar to how Amazon uses Just Walk Out technology at its stores. 

However, Dollar General is employing autonomous technology from AiFi. The Burlingame, Calif.-based startup uses a camera-only solution that doesnt require weighted shelves, a move that reportedly significantly reduces the deployment cost and time. AiFi leverages advanced tracking algorithms that can scale up to 10,000 square feet to support various shopper journeys such as an app, credit card, gated or hybrid entry.

[Read more: "Dollar General to Open 1st Stores in Montana"]

Last year, AiFi raised $65 million in Series B funding. It now has more than 100 autonomous stores deployed around the world, which have reached more than 1 million customers, with 6 million products sold. In 2022 alone, AiFi sold more than 4.8 million products, which is a 1,926% increase over the number of products sold in 2021. AiFi works with partners such as ALDI, Carrefour, Choice Market, Sodexo, Compass Group, Live Nation and Żabka, Polands largest convenience store chain.

Although AiFi’s computer vision-powered solution is gaining in popularity, Dollar General isn’t committing to a chainwide rollout of autonomous shopping yet. Consistent with our ongoing strategy to continually look for new ways to meet our customers’ value and convenience needs, we recently piloted a store with frictionless technology, Dollar General told Insider. While we do not currently plan to expand this technology, we instead will continue to test and learn.

During its first-quarter earnings call, Dollar General CEO Jeff Owen said that the company is focusing on driving efficiencies through its fast-track initiative. “The current phase of this initiative is focused on self-checkout, which provides customers with even greater convenience in our stores,” he said.

[Read more: “How Self-Checkout Is Adapting to Meet Customer, Retailer Needs”] 

Meanwhile, Amazon is making its Just Walk Out technology available to other retailers on a third-party basis. In March, Marymount University became the first higher-education institution in the United States to open an on-campus convenience store powered by Just Walk Out technology. 

As of May 5, Goodlettsville, Tenn.-based Dollar General operated 19,294 Dollar General, DG Market, DGX and pOpshelf stores across the United States, and Mi Súper Dollar General stores in Mexico. The company is No. 16 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. Seattle-based Amazon is No. 2 on The PG 100 and was also named one of PG’s Retailers of the Century.

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