Tesco, the U.K.’s largest grocery store chain, is reportedly testing out cashierless checkout using technology from Israeli startup, Trigo Vision. Bloomberg was first to report the as-yet-not-confirmed news, and framed its story as Tesco going up against Amazon and its Go stores. Which is accurate, but I think the bigger story, again if true, is about Trigo Vision gaining traction in the market.
Similar to the setup at Amazon Go stores, Tel-Aviv-based Trigo Vision installs high-tech cameras and artificial intelligence in existing grocery stores to automatically track what people purchase. Shoppers scan an app on their phone upon walking in, grab what they want and leave, getting charged automatically upon exit. Last August, Trigo Vision told The Spoon it had a pilot program with an unnamed European store, and was aiming to to open a full store in Europe by August of this year. Knowing that, word about a quiet partnership with Tesco getting leaked to the press now would make sense.
If the Bloomberg story is true, this would be the second major grocery chain partnership for Trigo Vision. In November of last year, Shufersal, Israel’s largest grocery chain, announced it would be rolling out Trigo Vision’s tech to its 272 store locations over this year. You can actually see Trigo Vision in action at a Shufersal in this video from an Israeli news broadcast:
As we’ve covered before, there are a raft of startups all vying to help supermarkets move to cashierless checkout. But Trigo Vision is the only one to have named at least one partner publicly. Others, such as Grabango, Caper, AWM Smart Shelf, Zippin and Standard Cognition are all in tests with retailers, but those retailers are still unnamed.
Again, the Bloomberg story still needs to be confirmed (we’ve reached out to Trigo Vision for comment), but perception can play a big part in vendor selection. As Trung Nguyen, VP of eCommerce for Albertsons explained at our recent Articulate food automation summit, grocery retailers aren’t just looking for cool new tech; they need a solution that can work at scale. If Trigo Vision’s name keeps coming up in headlines as a proven technology partner, then Trigo Vision will become the perceived leader of the cashierless checkout pack. This perception can then lead to more deals and that dominance can perpetuate itself.
Now, it’s still very early days in the cashierless checkout space, and Trigo Vision’s long-term success over other vendors is far from guaranteed. As noted, there are a lot of players with different takes on the tech and there are a lot of grocery stores in the world. And while Amazon and Walmart are developing their own cashierless checkout solutions, the sheer scale of their overall businesses could be a threat to the very existence of other retailers.
Tesco, it seems though, is ready to put up a fight.