Technology/Services

Alimentation Couche-Tard Rolling Out Smart Checkout at Circle K

Agreement with Mashgin bringing more than 10,000 units to stores in the U.S., Canada, Europe
Image courtesy of Alimentation Couche-Tard

LAVAL, Quebec, and PALO ALTO, Calif. — Following the successful deployment across nearly 500 Circle K locations in the United States and Sweden, Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. will deploy more than 10,000 Mashgin Touchless Checkout Systems to more than 7,000 of its Circle K and Couche-Tard stores in the United States, Canada and Europe during the next three years.

Couche-Tard has dubbed the artificial intelligence (AI)-powered self-checkout system as “Smart Checkout.” It will improve customer checkout times as much as 400%, Mashgin said.

Click here to for a look at Smart Checkout in action at Circle K.

The agreement with Mashgin represents the global deployment of the system, one of the largest-scale expansions of computer vision-powered checkout technology to date, the companies said. Couche-Tard tested the system at its retail innovation lab store on the campus of McGill University in Montreal.

“We’re committed to investing in and scaling technology that sets a new standard for convenience with our customers and advances our mission to make our customers’ lives a little easier every day,” said Magnus Tägtström, vice president of global innovation at Couche-Tard. “The Smart Checkout system powered by Mashgin’s game-changing technology shortens lines, improves the customer experience and frees up our teams to focus on helping our customers. We look forward to introducing this new platform to stores across our network.”

The Mashgin Touchless Checkout System is a compact countertop device that fits easily into the existing store layout, said the company. It uses computer vision to recognize items presented from virtually any angle and instantly ring them up in a single transaction. Customers place their items on the unit, which uses cameras to ring up everything in under a second. There is no need to download an app or find and scan barcodes; shoppers put items down, pay as they normally would, and are on their way in as little as 10 seconds – eight times faster than traditional self-checkout, said Mashgin.

“By reinforcing computer vision models with three-dimensional data, we are able to reach 99.9% accuracy when ringing items,” Mashgin co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Mukul Dhankar said. “This innovation also allows the system to easily differentiate between different sizes of items with a similar appearance, and also makes it flexible enough to recognize grab-and-go foods like pizza or roller grill items that may look slightly different each time. Another key component to our technology is its ability to learn new objects in less than a minute and sync that data across stores, making it possible to set up a new store in under an hour.”

Surveys of first-time Mashgin users at deployed Circle K locations show that 80% of those customers prefer Mashgin to traditional forms of checkout and self-checkout, the companies said. Recent updates to the system to allow cash use, fuel purchase and key loyalty programs such as Sip & Save have driven customer adoption, the added.

“We’ve been hearing great feedback from our customers in the stores where Smart Checkout has been introduced, and it’s easy to see why. Mashgin’s platform is incredibly simple to use and highly intuitive for customers,” said Alex Miller, executive vice president operations for North America and global commercial optimization for Couche-Tard. “Through this agreement, I am convinced that we will scale a great tool that makes it easy for our customers and team members, saving time and putting our customers and people first in our global operations.”

Founded in 2013 and based in Palo Alto, Calif., Mashgin is a privately held company backed by NEA, Matrix Partners, Susa Ventures and Y Combinator. Mashgin has processed more than 36 million transactions to date and can be found in more than 800 locations, including, Circle K and other c-store chains, airports and sports stadiums and entertainment venues.

  • Couche-Tard is No. 2 on CSP’s 2022 Top 40 Update to the 2021 Top 202 ranking of U.S. c-store chains by store count. Watch for the full 2022 Top 202 ranking in the June issue of CSP magazine and in CSP Daily News.

Laval, Quebec-based Couche-Tard’s 26-country global network includes approximately 9,300 c-stores in North America, with more than 7,100 in the United States under the Circle K and Holiday Stationstores banners in 48 states, and approximately 2,100 in Canada under the Circle K, Mac’s and Couche-Tard banners. In Europe, under the Circle K and other banners, Couche-Tard operates a retail network in Scandinavia, Ireland, Poland, the Baltics and Russia including more than 2,700 stores and unmanned automated fuel stations. And under licensing agreements, more than 2,200 stores operate under the Circle K banner in 15 other countries and territories (Cambodia, Egypt, Guam, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Jamaica, Macau, Mexico, Mongolia, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Vietnam). This brings Couche-Tard’s worldwide total network to approximately 14,200 mostly Circle K-branded c-stores.

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