When Amazon opened its first cashierless Amazon Go store last year, it seemed revolutionary – to a point. The idea that cameras could watch the items you select from the shelves and an app would automatically charge your account without requiring you to scan your items and check out, is certainly groundbreaking. But Amazon Go stores are tiny, they only sell convenience-store-type items, and they don’t accept traditional manufacturer’s coupons. Could this type of technology work on a larger scale, at a full-sized grocery store – one that sells everything you need, and accepts coupons too?

We may be about to find out.

Ohio-based Giant Eagle and technology company Grabango have joined forces to introduce a checkout-free shopping experience at a pilot Giant Eagle location. “Customers will enter the store and immediately start shopping as they normally would,” the companies announced in a joint statement. The system “utilizes computer vision and machine learning to track shopped items” and “automatically keeps a running total of the items each shopper selects.”

This is different from scan-as-you-go checkout options, that allow you to use your phone or a store-provided device to scan the bar codes of items as you put them into you cart. Grabango’s cameras, positioned throughout the store, will recognize products as you select them and automatically keep track of the total amount you owe.

The method of checkout is still a work in progress. You may have to stop at a payment kiosk to complete your transaction, or an app-based payment platform may allow your account to be automatically charged without having to stop at all – you just grab the groceries you want, and walk out.

“Lines annoy us. They always have, so we decided to do something about it,” Grabango says on its website. A real-world solution in the form of a futuristic Giant Eagle store shows that “checkout-free shopping has moved from science fiction into our modern present.”


One of the drawbacks of “grab and go” grocery shopping is that it’s not particularly compatible with couponing. If you don’t have to stop to check out, who’s going to accept your coupons?

A payment kiosk represents a bit of a compromise to the “grab and go” concept – you won’t have to individually scan your items like you do at a traditional checkout, but you will be able to consult with a cashier to pay with cash, credit or however you please. And that’s when you can apply paper or digital coupons to your order.

Using digital coupons and a mobile wallet could make the process more seamless by allowing you to pay, and save, without having to check out. Grabango’s platform will “support the existing digital coupon system and fuel rewards program” at Giant Eagle, Grabango Chief Marketing Officer Andrew Radlow told Coupons in the News. So if you preclip digital coupons as you normally would before shopping, those coupons will be automatically applied to your total when you leave the store. “In the future, and if customers opt-in to receive them, Grabango intends to offer coupons during the shopping journey,” Radlow said.

Indeed, a Grabango patent application published just a few weeks ago explains how Grabango envisions this real-time couponing system working.

“Marketing and Couponing in a Retail Environment Using Computer Vision” describes a system in which the cameras that detect what you’re browsing or buying can be used to offer you relevant coupons while you shop.

“For example, a coupon for 10% off a box of cereal could be delivered to a customer after the customer inspects the cereal,” the patent application explains. Or, “a coupon may be selected and delivered to a customer for a particular brand of ketchup based in part on the customer having hamburger buns and ground beef in the cart.”

There’s no timeline on when Giant Eagle’s pilot program might be launched throughout the retailer’s more than 400 supermarkets, neighborhood markets and fuel and convenience stores. If it eventually does, that could mark the moment when what is currently an Amazon curiosity really does become the grocery store of the future.

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