Standard Cognition, a San Francisco-based cashierless checkout startup, has acquired aptly named Italian company Checkout Technologies, which also does autonomous retail. TechCrunch was first to report the news. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Standard Cognition has raised $86 million in funding, while Checkout had raised just €1.3M ($1.42 USD). Standard Cognition CEO Jordan Fisher told TechCrunch that the two companies had been talking since the middle of last year and were in the final diligence stage of the deal when the COVID-19 pandemic struck Italy particularly hard.
The global COVID-19 crisis could actually help spur adoption of cashierless checkout at retail. The technology allows shoppers to walk into a store, grab what they want and get charged automatically upon exit. This type of contactless transaction reduces the number of human-to-human interactions happening in a store, which could help protect store workers and put shoppers more at ease with in-store shopping.
Fisher also told TechCrunch that he expects to see consolidation in the autonomous checkout space. There is certainly a bevy of startups bringing their cashierless solutions to market. In addition to Standard Cognition and Checkout Technologies, there is Trigo, Grabango, Zippin, Caper, Shopic, Swiftly, Skip, AiFi, and Accel Robotics. Not to mention Amazon, which is the grandaddy of cashierless checkout and will be licensing out its technology. And while Walmart’s IRL store hasn’t implemented cashierless checkout yet, it has banks of cameras monitoring in-store inventory, and it’s not too huge a leap to think they will roll out cashierless options soon.
We started to see some grocery retailers go public with their cashierless partnerships last year. Trigo is at Tesco and Shufersal, Grabango with Giant Eagle, and Zippin with Lojas Americanas. But the big impediment to implementing these cashierless technologies, at least at large grocery chains, is that they need to work at scale and right away. There’s still a learning curve and workflow adoption of cashierless checkout that needs to happen for most consumers.
But the coronavirus pandemic is accelerating the adoption of certain technologies around food, especially if they help promote the safety of workers and shoppers alike. Cashierless checkout could be here in a meaningful way sooner than we expected.