Piggly Wiggly Midwest to Leverage AI, Automation in Stores

Indie banner joins forces with Focal Systems on pilot
Bridget Goldschmidt
Managing Editor
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Piggly Wiggly Midwest Main Image
FocalOS will digitize Piggly Wiggly stores to automate and optimize ordering, inventory management, merchandising and in-store labor.

Piggly Wiggly Midwest will pilot the Focal Operating System (FocalOS) from Focal Systems at its Wisconsin and Illinois stores. FocalOS digitizes the entire store to automate and optimize ordering, inventory management, merchandising and in-store labor, with the aim of delivering an enhanced customer experience.

“We’re thrilled to work with such a beloved and historic grocer that has been a staple in American lives for more than a century,” said Francois Chaubard, CEO and founder of San Francisco-based Focal Systems. “I’m seeing the first signs of massive adoption of [artificial intelligence] and computer vision in the grocery and retail industry and it’s exciting to see one of the best grocery chains helping to lead the charge. In partnering with Focal Systems, Piggly Wiggly Midwest is demonstrating how it continues to be a pioneer in the industry. We look forward to expanding our partnership in years to come.” 

Focal Systems recently raised $25 million in Series B funding, and its solution rolled out this past May at Cooportunity Market, the only organic food cooperative in Los Angeles. To date, Focal Systems has raised more than $40 million in venture capital funding. 

“Piggly Wiggly has been changing the industry since it launched its first store,” noted Mark McGowan, SVP, retail, at C&S Wholesale Grocers Inc., which operates Piggly Wiggly Midwest corporate stores and services independent franchisees under a chain-style model. “Our partnership with Focal Systems will enable us to provide an even better shopper experience by leveraging the most innovative retail automation technology available.”

Building on its more than a century in the grocery business, Piggly Wiggly continues to grow its presence with stores throughout the Midwest, South and Northeast. Each store contains a specialized local assortment to meet area shoppers’ needs.

Founded in 1918 as a supplier to independent grocery stores, Keene, N.H.-based C&S services customers of all sizes, supplying more than 7,500 independent supermarkets, chain stores, military bases and institutions with 100,000-plus products, in addition to operating corporate stores. The company is No. 17 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top retailers of food and consumables in North America. 

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