Zippin, a startup creating cashierless checkout experiences for retailers, announced today that it has raised a $12 million Series A round of funding led by Evolv Ventures, the venture fund backed by Kraft Heinz. Other investors include SAP.iO, Scrum Ventures, Arca Continental, and Nomura Research Institute and NTT DOCOMO Ventures from Japan.
Zippin is one of many companies looking to retrofit retailers such as supermarkets with technology to facilitate grab-and-go shopping with no checkout lines. Unlike most of its competition, Zippin doesn’t just rely on cameras and AI to keep track of what people pick up (and put back) while shopping. It also employs shelf-sensors for what it says is a more accurate analysis of what people take and keep as they walk out the door.
As part of today’s announcement, Zippin also said that it is making its technology more portable and accessible to retailers with the introduction of the Zippin Cube. The Zippin Cube is a modular, pre-fabricated cashierless store-in-a-box roughly 300 – 500 sq. ft. that can be assembled in under three weeks upon ordering.
The Zippin Cube is what is currently running in the Golden 1 Center Arena in Sacramento, CA. Zippin Co-Founder and CEO, Krishna Motukuri said to me over the phone last week that unlike other “pop-up” style cashierless checkout experiences — like those from AiFi, which use shipping-container-like structures — the Zippin Cube is modular, so it can fit inside odd-shaped real estate and can even include coolers for beverages and other cold items. Additionally, the Cube comes with all the wiring and mounts ready to go, so it’s easy to install the technology.
These pop-ups promise to be a game changer for food retailers. First, it allows them to quickly and affordably extend their brands into new areas relatively inexpensively. Think: a permanent pop-up mini-Kroger or 7-11 in the lobby of an office building or at a music festival. Or, if you wanted to get really nutty, a supermarket could open up a convenience store inside its existing store. This could be a super fast option for customers just needing one or two very basic grab-and-go items like milk or gum or sodas.
As newsy as this fundraise is for Zippin, it’s also worth pointing out Evolv’s decision to lead the round. As noted, Evolv is the venture fund of Kraft Heinz, and it’s easy to see why that CPG giant might be interested in a technology like Zippin’s. The cameras and AI in a cashierless store environment give Kraft Heinz insights closer to the consumer, with the ability to analyze what products are picked up, which ones are put back, and which products are skipped over entirely when people shop.
We’ve seen a flurry of funding activity in the cashierless checkout space in the last quarter of 2019. Accel Robotics raised $30 million last week, Trigo raised $22 million and Caper raised $10 million, each in September. All this funding is another good indicator that 2020 is going to be a transformational year for cashierless checkout.
Today’s funding brings the total amount raised by Zippin to $15 million. The company previously received an undisclosed strategic investment from Brazillian retailer Lojas Americanas, whos Ame Go convenience stores will be powered by Zippin technology. Zippin said today that it will be launching at new stores in the coming months.
(Photo Credit: Sacramento Kings/Golden 1 Center)