Retail Business Services, the services company of Ahold Delhaize USA, has announced new frictionless store technology, piloted under the name Lunchbox. It enables consumers to shop a small format store in seconds by scanning in, shopping and walking out. The technology is currently being tested in Retail Business Services’ office in Quincy, Massachusetts.
The Ahold Delhaize USA unit partnered with UST Global, a digital transformation solutions company, to develop the store. Retail Business Services led application development, technology connectivity and provided food retail operations expertise, and UST Global and its partners supplied the artificial intelligence (AI) technology solution and physical infrastructure for the store. The technology will be demonstrated at the National Retail Federation (NRF) Big Show in January in collaboration with UST Global and Intel.
“Lunchbox is an easy, fresh shopping alternative,” said Paul Scorza, executive vice president and chief information officer at Retail Business Services. “Once registered, shoppers simply scan in, shop and walk out. It’s that easy.”
Compared to other frictionless store concepts, Lunchbox is efficient. The solution carries a lean cost and can be implemented in a matter of weeks.
“We believed in this concept so much we brought it to our own office,” added Scorza. “Our cafeteria that serves more than 1,000 accociates was being remodeled, and we were looking for a quick, cost effective solution to give people access to beverages, snacks and fresh items at a variety of hours. We implemented this solution in just six weeks. Today, thousands of shops, with groups of up to 12 in the store at the same time, have been successfully completed.”
The application technology for Lunchbox, created in Retail Business Services’ innovation lab and tech hub, is powered by a proprietary app, which admits shoppers to the store and charges them for purchases. For ease of payment, services such as PayPal, Venmo, Apply Pay and Google Pay are integrated into the wallet.
Inside the store, AI running on Intel Core i5 and i7 processors-based systems optimized with the Intel Distribution of OpenVINO toolkit detects which products are being removed from shelves in the store and anonymous body skeletal tracking connects the right products to the right shopper. It enables Lunchbox to use existing Intel-based point-of-sale systems and deploy on-premise AI at maximum performance.
“In the age of e-commerce, there are many opportunities for companies to evolve and better serve shoppers,” said Mahesh Athalye, UST Global’s senior director. “Combined with AI/ML technology and purpose-built smartphone applications, solutions like Lunchbox, will help deliver frictionless experiences for shoppers seeking a quick, touchless experience.”
Ahold Delhaize USA supermarket operations include Food Lion, Giant Food, Giant/Martin’s, Hannaford and Stop & Shop, in addition to the country’s largest online grocery retailer, Peapod.