Circle K Retrofits Store With Cashierless Checkout

System from Standard Cognition uses ceiling-mounted cameras and AI
Circle K store front
Photograph: Shutterstock

TEMPE, Ariz. — Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. has selected Standard Cognition to pilot touchless, autonomous checkout technology for its Circle K convenience stores. The two companies will launch the first c-store retrofitted with artificial intelligence (AI) technology, located in Tempe, Ariz., in the Phoenix area, with other stores to follow.

Customers will be able to walk in, take what they like and walk out, without having to scan anything or wait in line to pay.

This store will mark the first-ever retrofit of an existing c-store with autonomous checkout technology, according to the companies. For Circle K stores, 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. 

In this first store, Circle K customers will be able to choose to have a completely autonomous and touchless shopping experience by paying via a smartphone app, or via cash or credit/debit card at a kiosk or by visiting a traditional cashier station.

“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 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.”

“We believe convenience stores will be the first major market to quickly adopt autonomous checkout,” said Jordan Fisher, co-founder and CEO of Standard Cognition. “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 powerhouse retailer.”

San Francisco-based Standard was an early startup in the autonomous checkout space, and among the first to open a cashierless store in San Francisco. Standard is currently working with retailers across the United States and the world. The company has raised $86 million in funding from high-profile investors including CRV, Initialized Capital, EQT Ventures and Y Combinator.

Circle K is a subsidiary of Couche-Tard, Laval, Quebec. Its North American retail network includes 9,792 convenience stores. Couche-Tard is No. 2 in CSP's 2020 Top 202 ranking of U.S. c-store chains by number of company-owned retail outlets.

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