FutureProof Retail, which provides mobile checkout technology for grocers, announced today that it will incorporate Halla’s AI-based product recommendations into its service.
FutureProof Retail uses mobile phones to create a line-free checkout process for supermarkets. Unlike other cashierless checkout solutions that install cameras and use computer vision to identify what you purchase, FutureProof moves everything to a whitelabeled app from the retailer on your phone. You scan barcodes to add items to your cart, and when you’re done, you hit a checkout button and a store employee does a quick check of your bag to make sure you aren’t shoplifting. You can see it in action in this video:
With today’s announcement, when people scan an item Halla’s recommendation engine will kick in to suggest a complementary product right there on the phone’s screen. So if you scanned a bag of Tostito’s chips, the app would recommend salsa. But Halla’s recommendations are also dynamic and adapt as you shop. As we wrote when the company raised $1.4 million in May of this year:
…if you are using a grocer’s app with Halla I/O built in, the app will serve up intelligent recommendations as you continue to shop online. Buy salt, it could recommend pepper. By salt and noodles and beef, and it might guess that you are making a bolognese and recommend tomato sauce.
Halla developed its recommendations based on data from anonymized grocery transactions to see what items are typically purchased at the same time, as well as restaurant and menu items (menu descriptions are, after all, typically a list of ingredients). Halla had initially started off making recommendations for restaurants as well, but pivoted away from that to focus on grocery.
It’s important to note that Halla will only provide one recommendation per item. “As of today our recommendations are focused on complementary products with one goal in mind, what is most likely to be purchased,” Halla Co-Founder and CEO, Spencer Price, told me by phone this week. Price said that this focus on a single product is important because shopping is a very emotional experience for people, and one that can’t be junked up with lots of pop-ups on a phone screen with lists to scroll through.
FutureProof works with Fairway Markets in New York and other regional grocery chains, though Price was unable to provide a timeline or location for where its recommendations will go live through this partnership.
Almost as important as the news itself is the fact that FutureProof has publicly named Halla as a partner. There are other AI-based food recommendation engines out there like Spoonshot and Analytical Flavor Systems, but they are pretty quiet about their clientele.
I’m not fully convinced about the broad adoption of FutureProof’s cashierless implementation. Manually scanning products and having a human check your bag before you leave a store seems to bring friction into a process that is supposed to be frictionless. Regardless, for those who do use it, FutureProof’s app requirement seems like a good vehicle for Halla’s technology because of its immediacy and visual cues. I imagine the company will look towards announcing partnerships with smart shelf displays like AWM Smart Shelf in the near future.