The computer vision startup and the major German grocery chain announced Wednesday (Dec. 14) the launch of the location in Munich, part of the two companies’ “Pick&Go” partnership, at which consumers check in by scanning their phones upon entry, pick the items they would like, and walk out, their accounts automatically charged.
“The first fully autonomous REWE store marks the beginning of the second test phase of REWE Pick&Go, the company’s innovation project,” Rewe managing director Peter Maly said in a statement. “The two hybrid test markets have shown that autonomous shopping with REWE Pick&Go is an exciting, convenient, and time-saving alternative to traditional shopping.”
This location follows on the heels of the two hybrid autonomous/traditional locations that the supermarket chain and the technology provider opened in Germany, the first in Cologne last year and the second in Berlin in June. The shift to fully autonomous, with a location at which consumers cannot checkout in the traditional manner, marks a significant change, a bet that consumers’ comfort level and expectations have evolved to the point where they are ready for a supermarket without any alternatives.
In fact, this shift to fully automated marks a departure from Trigo’s own predictions in an interview with PYMNTS last year.
“In five years, I believe that you will have thousands of autonomous stores,” Yair Holtzer, vice president of business development at Trigo, said at the time, specifying that these will include both small-format convenience stores in dense, urban areas and larger-format supermarkets. “You will be able to still buy in the traditional way, if you want … but you will also be able to choose the green lane to just walk in, grab the items and walk out.”
That the companies believe consumers are ready for this change is a testament to how quickly the technology has expanded, with Trigo and its competitors rapidly rolling out frictionless checkout to new locations and new store concepts.
For instance, Amazon has been expanding its “Just Walk Out” technology to a range of different retailers, including non-Amazon-owned grocers, sporting arena concessions shops, airport stores and more.
Research from PYMNTS’ study Decoding Customer Affinity: The Customer Loyalty to Merchants Survey 2022, created in collaboration with Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions, which draws from a survey of more than 2,000 U.S. consumers, finds that 11-12% of grocery shoppers cite payment or fulfillment features as the most important consideration when choosing a merchant.
The study also found that around one-third of those surveyed see the ability to choose their favorite payment options as an important variable impacting their loyalty to merchants.
In a blog post accompanying Wednesday’s announcement, Trigo CEO Michael Gabay hinted at more such locations to come.
“This store is a product of the close and long-standing partnership between REWE and Trigo, who, together, created effective and efficient processes over time that serve as a model for additional store expansion,” Gabay said. “Opening the first fully autonomous store in Germany makes a bold statement in the retail industry.”