When it comes to cashierless checkout for retail, there is a host of startups offering a number of different solutions. Grabango and Zippin install banks of cameras in stores and use computer vision and AI to keep track of purchases. Caper and IMAGR move the cameras and AI to smart shopping carts. And now Nomitri is pushing all that cashierless checkout tech to your mobile phone.
Founded in 2019 and based in Berlin, Germany, Nomitri is just now coming out of stealth mode. The company provides retailers with a special mount that affixes to a shopping cart and holds a mobile phone. Shoppers download and install the Nomitri app on their phone and place it in the holder with the camera facing into the cart Users then scan a food item’s barcode with the phone’s camera as it is placed in the cart and Nomitri’s software keeps a running total of what the shopper is getting. (Produce and bulk items are weighed on special scales that produce a sticker with a barcode that is scanned.)
The Nomitri app uses computer vision and AI to understand what is in the cart at all times. So if you try to slip something in there without scanning it, Nomitri notices and alerts you to either scan the item or remove it. Once you’re done shopping, Nomitri tallies up your total. The store can either integrate Nomitri into its existing checkout lanes, or set up new ones for a more frictionless checkout experience using Apple Pay or similar e-payment systems.
Trinh Le-Fiedler, Founder and CEO of Nomitri, explained to me by phone this week that all of the computer vision and AI is happening in the app itself. So there isn’t any extra computing power that needs to happen at the store, nor is there ongoing communication with a cloud service as people shop.
Le-Fielder said that ideally all of this cashierless checkout will happen on a Nomitri-branded app. That way a user just needs to download one app to shop at different Nomitri-powered stores. But she also admitted that retailers may want to retain that customer relationship and sales data, so white label versions of the app could also be created.
Nomitri’s solution is similar to Israel-based Shopic, which also pushes all the cashierless checkout tech to a user’s mobile phone. Shopic also has a component added to shopping carts to monitor what goes in them to help deter theft. Le-Fielder said that Nomitri’s solution is currently being tested by two different retailers in Europe.
All of these solutions from Grabango, Caper, Nomitri et al. are coming to market around the same time, giving retailers plenty of options. Which one(s) will they choose? A full retrofit like Grabango’s requires a lot of up-front work, but it can also provide inventory management services (like if items are misplaced on the wrong shelf). Smart carts like Caper’s don’t require a store build out, but require getting a fleet of entirely new shopping carts. Nomitri is carving out its own niche because it allows retailers to transform their existing carts into smart carts with the simple addition of a phone holder.
Whatever the solution, we’re going to see a lot more cashierless options being adopted by retailers as the technology matures and stores look for ways to reduce human-to-human interaction in a post-COVID world.