Carrefour has opened its first autonomous vending machine store at the headquarters of its Belgian unit in Zaventem. The 18 square metre shop near Brussels, called Carrefour BuyBye, is equipped with Smart Fridges. The technology comes from Portuguese specialist Reckon.ai and works with weight sensors, camera technology and artificial intelligence for item recognition. The small BuyBye store is currently open to shoppers from Monday to Friday from 7am to 10pm, but will be open around the clock from January.
Cameras are installed at strategic points in the fridges. These help to record the products that have been removed or put back. The AI-based solution from Reckon.ai is trained to recognise every product from every angle using computer vision. Weight sensors are installed in each shelf of the refrigerators as an additional control instrument.
Before customers can take their lunch, snacks, cold drinks or fruit from the fridges, they must either download the Carrefour BuyBye app and add their preferred payment details or present their bank card. Either way, the fridge doors can be opened and products picked out. Data from the cameras and weight sensors is used to determine what the customer has removed. The shopper is charged the amount via the selected payment method.
Inventory data and KPIs in real time
The Reckon.ai dashboard allows Carrefour to access the inventory data of the fridges in real time and trigger replenishment as required. The retail giant can also gain valuable insights into shoppers’ current shopping baskets and the use of payment options. Carrefour has announced its intention to launch further pilot locations following a successful test. These will also include locations in the existing store network so that customers can also purchase goods from the retailer outside of regular opening hours.
Reckon.ai emphasises the flexibility of its solution: Smart Fridges can be tested at many locations with just two square metres of space, a power source and an internet connection. If sales at individual locations fall short of expectations, the hardware can easily be relocated. Smart Fridges are a cost-effective way for retailers to expand their store network in line with demand.
Smart Fridges from Reckon.ai tested at Lekkerland and Jerónimo Martins
Other retail companies are also testing the Reckon.ai solution. Wholesaler Lekkerland, part of the Rewe Group, has the first pilot sites with Smart Fridges from the Portuguese manufacturer in operation in its own office buildings. Further tests at other locations are planned for this year (The Retail Optimiser reported). Portuguese retailer Jerónimo Martins is trialling Reckon.ai’s Smart Fridges in a pilot store of its Pingo Doce sales division at Nova University in Lisbon.