Retail Automation Firm Raises $25.8M for AI-Powered Solutions

Focal Systems already partnering with Walmart and other retailers
Lynn Petrak
Senior Editor
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Focal systems camera
Focal Systems recently received major funding to expand its vision-based retail automation solutions.

Highlighting the future role of AI-powered automation in the grocery sector, Focal Systems has closed a $25.8 million funding round.

The Silicon Valley retail automation company, supported by investors including Point72 Ventures, Costanoa, Zetta and Zebra Technologies, is working with several large retailers to replace traditional sales-based inventory systems with real-time, computer vision-based systems.

Walmart is one of those partners, teaming up with Focal Systems to help digitize stores through a network of low-cost shelf cameras. Focal System estimates that it quadrupled the number of cameras deployed across all of its retail customers in 2021 and has commitments to deploy an additional 200,000 cameras in 2022.

In its announcement, the company reported that it will use the fresh Series B funding to work towards its growth goals in the next year, through expanded solutions and expanded sales and technical teams.

"At a time when supply chain issues, organized retail crime, and labor shortages continue to challenge the retail industry, merchants are still relying on outdated and inaccurate sales-based PI systems that just do not work. Approximately half of the out-of-stock items on a grocery store's shelves are not related to supply chain issues or labor shortages – they're a result of sales-based PI systems not accurately capturing data. Focal solves this," remarked Francois Chaubard, Focal Systems’ CEO.

Sri Chandrasekar, partner at lead investor Point72 Ventures, said that the solution comes at a pivotal time in the industry.  "Focal Systems has developed a unique platform to help the world's biggest and most well-known retailers automate and optimize retail operations to truly maximize cash flows through improved inventory, supply chain and labor efficiency," he commented.

Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart operates approximately 10,500 stores under 48 banners in 24 countries, and e-commerce websites, employing 2.2 million-plus associates worldwide. Walmart U.S. is No. 1 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.

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