Since we just held a Spoon event this week focused on reducing waste, I thought it appropriate to recycle my headline from earlier this year: We Need to Talk About Cashierless Checkout. I’m not just being lazy, I think we legitimately need to talk about cashierless checkout (again) because so much has happened since the first time I said it — and a lot happened just this week!
Let’s start by reviewing the relevant Spoon headlines since the first time I ran that headline in February:
- SuperSmart’s Cart Scale Makes it Standout in Cashierless Checkout
- Amazon Opens Up Cashierless Fresh Market in London
- Cashierless Checkout Startup Imagr Expanding into Europe, Says Pilots Cost €65,000
- Portugal: Sensei Raises $6.5M for its Cashierless Checkout Tech
- Trigo Partners with German Grocer REWE for Cashierless Checkout Stores
- WalkOut Retrofits Shopping Carts with Cameras and Screens for Cashierless Checkout
- Zippin Adds OurCrowd as an Investor, Launches its Own Equity Crowdfunding Campaign
- AiFi and Verizon Open up Cashierless Popup Store at the Indianapolis 500
- Grabango Raises $39M Series B Funding for Cashierless Checkout
- Amazon Opening Full-Sized Cashierless Checkout Grocery Store
- Zippin and AiFi Announce New Cashierless Checkout Store Locations
- Cashierless Checkout Startup Trigo Gets $10M Strategic Investment from REWE
In the last four months, we’ve written nine cashierless checkout stories, which means that roughly every two weeks, we’re seeing sizeable news in the space. But it’s not just the number of stories. Scratch beneath the surface and some trends emerge.
There are four funding stories for four companies at different stages, operating in different locations around the world. Based in Portugal, Sensei’s round was a Seed round. Israel’s Trigo got a strategic investment from German grocer REWE. Here in the U.S., Grabango’s haul was a later-stage sizeable Series B. And Zippin, which is based in the U.S. but is powering stores in the U.S., Brazil, Japan and Russia, has turned to equity crowdfunding after previously raising institutional money. I wouldn’t call the cashierless checkout funding environment “frothy” yet, but the sustained level of activity shows that investors are interested in emerging an established solutions.
Beyond the funding, look at the variety of cashierless checkout startups coming to market. SuperSmart, Imagr and WalkOut all do some type of smart shopping cart. Trigo, Grabango and now Amazon retrofit full-sized grocery stores with cameras and computer vision to achieve frictionless checkout. Zippin and AiFi focus on smaller convenience and pop-up stores. In other words, there is a lid for every pot. Retailers will have a number of cashierless checkout options to choose from that suits them.
While cashierless checkout spots are opening up across the globe, Europe is becoming a particular hotspot of activity. Imagr opened an office in Amsterdam. Sensei is in Portugal. In addition to its funding, Trigo is launching a store with REWE, and is also a partner/investor in UK-based Tesco. AiFi has partnered with Polish convenience chain, Żabka. AiFi is launching a thousand stores with Dutch retailer Wundermart. And not to be left out, Amazon opened up a location in London.
This is admittedly a small part of the overall picture, but both Zippin and AiFi launched small convenience stores at sporting venues. Zippin opened its third stadium location, this one at Barclays Center in New York, while AiFi partnered with Verizon to open a small pop-up store at the Indianapolis 500.
As I discussed back in February, there are a couple of main drivers of all this cashierless checkout news. First is the pandemic, which pushed retailers into looking for more contactless retail environments. In addition to removing a human cashier/vector of transmission from the equation, cashierless stores keep customers from congregating in line and reduce the amount of time they spend inside.
Another factor, however, is Amazon, which kicked off the whole cashierless checkout trend with its Go stores three years ago. Since then Amazon has only ratcheted things up with its smart Dash shopping carts and just this week, showed it can scale its cashierless checkout to a full-sized grocery store. Amazon’s constant drive to innovate is forcing other retailers to do the same and accelerate their own cashierless plans.
In other words, we’ll need to talk about cashierless checkout a few more times before the year is over.
InnerPlant Raises $5.65M to Turn Plants Into “Living Sensors” and Mitigate Crop Loss – Agtech company InnerPlant, which is changing plant DNA to create “living sensors” that mitigate crop loss, has raised $5.65 million in pre-seed and seed funding,
Upcycled Food Association Launches Open Enrollment as Upcycling Momentum Grows – This week, the Upcycled Food Association announced that it had opened the doors for anyone who wants to apply for certification.
There’s More to Food Waste Innovation Than Tech, According to ReFED’s Dana Gunders – Dana Gunders, the Managing Director and a founder of ReFED, kicked off The Spoon’s recent event by asking two important questions related to food waste: What is innovation, and what is the problem we’re trying to solve with it?