3 Approaches to Implement AI Cameras, Sensors in Convenience Stores

Technology companies share uses for data collection at Conexxus conference
AI in convenience stores
CSP Staff

Artificial intelligence (AI), when paired with cameras, can provide valuable data to retailers by acting as constant eyes on the store and analyzing what it detects. What are some use-cases for AI cameras or sensors, and how can retailers take advantage of it?

Three leaders from technology companies took part in a panel discussion on Tuesday at the Conexxus conference in Arlington, Texas: Krishna Motukuri (left), CEO and co-founder of Zippin, San Francisco; Rajeev Sharma (right), founder and CEO of VideoMining, State College, Pennsylvania; and Pierre-Marie Rallu (second from left), vice president of Captana, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. Robert Hampton (second from right), vice president of technology services and innovation at Jacksons Food Stores, Meridian, Idaho, moderated the panel.

Check out their concepts for implementing AI technology with cameras inside convenience stores.

Offer a Checkout-Free Experience

Zippin is a software development company that uses AI, machine learning and sensor fusion technology to offer checkout-free stores. The company works with convenience stores, stadiums, venues, transportation, higher education campuses, healthcare providers and hospitality operators.

Customers enter a Zippin-powered store by scanning their credit card. After grabbing what they want, the purchase occurs automatically when they exit the store. The technology eliminates lines and the need for employees. It’s also capable of verifying age-restricted items.

Zippin’s main markets include sports stadiums, airports and college campuses, said Motukuri, because it’s locations like these that consumers are looking for a true in-and-out experience.

Zippin is a win-win for retailers and their shoppers, he said. There’s less friction for shoppers, and retailers can optimize their business models.

Motukuri said that stores have seen a 10-50% sales lift from more traffic and better use of space. There are also lower labor costs, better inventory operations, actionable intelligence and less shrink.

In addition to these benefits, checkout-free shopping provides retailers with the opportunity to learn about every customer that enters the store. Privacy concerns are mitigated because cameras are on the ceiling, pointing directly down, therefore minimizing the ability to see customers faces. Even if a face is visible, the camera tracks anonymous tokens, not individual customers, Motukuri said.

Track Shopper Behavior

VideoMining uses sensors not to automate checkout, but to capture shopper behavior.

The State College, Pennsylvania-based company's sensors analyze shopper profiles, traffic flow, behavior at the shelf and point of sale integration.

It also collects data from outside of the store. At the forecourt, sensors can track how customers pay, the number of customers that follow their fuel purchase with a stop inside the store and the number of fuel customers that don't enter the store.

Sharma thinks of the technology as sensors, not cameras, because they also don’t identify individual customers’ faces.

Get Snapshot Updates

Captana manufactures solutions to connect the physical store with the digital world, said Rallu.

The company offers a wireless camera that takes about 10 snapshots a day of a certain area of the store, which can collect data about what’s on the shelves and how to better manage stock.

Rallu gave the example of installing a camera pointing at fresh food offerings. By monitoring the bakery shelf all day, the AI can recognize and record how many items are removed. This can give retailers insights on what’s selling, how fast it’s selling and who is buying it.

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