LAVAL, Quebec — Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. is testing the use of contactless checkout at its convenience stores.
Under a new pact with Standard Cognition, Couche-Tard will retrofit a Circle K store in the Phoenix area with artificial intelligence (AI) technology that will allow customers to walk in, shop, and walk out without having to scan items or wait in line to pay.
According to Standard, the two companies plan to bring the payment technology to additional stores.
Laval-based Couche-Tard is the parent company of the global Circle K brand.
The Phoenix-area store will mark the first-ever retrofit of an existing c-store with autonomous checkout technology. For Standard, this means integrating with Circle K's existing systems and working with their current store layout, fixtures and lighting, as well as their existing inventory management and replenishment processes, the San Francisco-based technology company said.
Instead of shelf sensors, Standard leverages ceiling-mounted cameras as well as proprietary AI and machine vision software to accurately associate each shopper with the items they pick up — without using biometric data, it added.
In Couche-Tard's pilot store, Circle K customers have three payment options: autonomous checkout via a smartphone app, cash or credit/debit card at a kiosk, or a traditional checkout.
"Autonomous checkout is one of our innovation priorities that enable us to make our customers' lives a little easier every day. We thoroughly evaluated the market and realized that working with Standard presented significant benefits since they could integrate with our existing systems and retrofit our existing stores," said Magnus Tägtström, head of Global Digital Innovation at Alimentation Couche-Tard.
"We will not have to relocate merchandise, replace shelves or build an entirely new store to implement autonomous checkout. We are excited to partner with Standard to try this technology in some of our stores worldwide," he added.
According to Standard, the company also brings expertise in the intersection of impulse shopping and autonomous checkout. Through its insights, Standard will help Circle K design user experiences that balance operational efficiency, shopper satisfaction and financial optimization.
"We believe convenience stores will be the first major market to quickly adopt autonomous checkout," said Jordan Fisher, co-founder and CEO of Standard. "With over 150,000 convenience stores in the U.S. alone, this is a key market for Standard. Circle K is one of the leading convenience store chains globally, and this partnership is a major validation for our technology to go live with such a power-house retailer."