Alimentation Couche-Tard’s facility at McGill University in Montreal is proof that the company’s innovation team is always learning. Couche-Tard opened its retail innovation lab at McGill in January 2021 and has been using the space as a testing ground for frictionless checkout and other forward-looking technologies and advancements.

Currently, the retailer is experimenting with Pay- by-Plate (as in license plate) technology in Europe that allows customers to pay for fuel using sign recognition and a mobile app, offering a frictionless checkout experience at the pump. The company has also implemented fully autonomous checkout in seven Circle K stores in Arizona, one in partnership with San Francisco-based Standard AI and six with Berkeley, Calif.-based Grabango.

There is more innovation to come, says Magnus Tagtstrom, global head of digital innovation for Laval, Quebec-based Couche-Tard. “We are looking at a next-generation self-checkout platform that also uses computer vision to automatically identify, price and total items placed on the counter. We have more than 400 of these units in stores in six states … and we’re continuing to expand the availability of this technology to new stores and new markets,” he says.