Retail Business Services teamed with digital transformation solutions company UST to develop frictionless store technology in 2019.
Retail Business Services (RBS), the services company of Ahold Delhaize USA, has introduced in a new location its frictionless store technology that enables people to shop a small-format store in seconds. The Giant Co. is offering the solution at its new e-commerce fulfillment center in Philadelphia as an option for the site’s more than 125 associates to seamlessly shop for fresh, healthy items while at work.
“This innovative technology was created to meet the needs of connected customers – or busy associates – whose lives are in constant motion,” said Rom Kosla, RBS’ EVP, IT and CIO. “Once an individual downloads the app, they can simply scan in, shop and walk out. It’s that easy. Shoppers can grab a snack, a salad, fresh fruit or even a carton of milk as they head home. It’s a particularly relevant capability for a location like this, where team members would otherwise need to travel off-site to purchase food products.”
Teaming with digital transformation solutions company UST to develop the store technology in 2019, RBS guided application development, technology connectivity, and provided food retail operations expertise, while UST and its partners provided the artificial intelligence (AI) technology solution and physical infrastructure for the store. Available for implementation in any space in a matter of weeks, the solution can be purchased through UST, with the store taking the place of vending machines or a full-service cafeteria.
“Following the successful implementation of this frictionless technology at our perishable distribution center in Carlisle, Pa., we’re excited to offer it to our team members at our Giant Direct e-commerce fulfillment center in Philadelphia,” said Glennis Harris, SVP of customer experience at The Giant Co., which is also based in Carlisle. “We know our team members will appreciate the broad assortment of snacks, meals, beverages and more, conveniently available day or night, without ever having to leave the building.”
Giant Co. associates working at the facility have exclusive access to the store, which isn’t open to the public.
The application technology, developed in RBS’ innovation lab and tech hub, is powered by a proprietary app that lets shoppers into the store and charges them for purchases via digital wallet. Inside the store, AI detects which products are being taken from shelves, while anonymous body skeletal tracking connects the right products and shoppers.
“In the age of e-commerce, there are many opportunities for companies to evolve and better serve shoppers,” noted Mahesh Athalye, senior director, retail platform and solutions at Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based UST. “Combined with AI/ML technology and purpose-built smartphone applications, solutions like this will help deliver frictionless experiences for shoppers seeking a quick, touchless experience.”
RBS provides services to five omnichannel grocery brands: Food Lion, Giant Food, The Giant Co., Hannaford and Stop & Shop. The company leverages the scale of the local brands to drive synergies and provides industry-leading expertise, insights and analytics to local brands to support their strategies with offerings such as business integrity services (legal, risk management, quality assurance); business services (HR technology systems and process management); communications and omnichannel service; finance business services; financial planning and analysis; human resources; indirect sourcing; information technology; pharmacy services; retail innovation; store development; leasing and facilities support; and strategy and business development.
With more than 35,000 associates supporting nearly 190 stores, 132 pharmacies, 107 fuel stations, and 150-plus online pickup hubs and grocery delivery service in hundreds of ZIP codes, The Giant Co. encompasses the following banners: Giant, Martin’s, Giant Heirloom Market, Giant Direct and Martin’s Direct. Parent company Ahold Delhaize USA, a division of Zaandam, Netherlands-based Ahold Delhaize operates more than 2,000 stores across 23 states and is No. 10 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in the United States.