The days of supermarket queues are numbered. That’s if Amazon and a slew of well-financed startups’ recent activities are anything to go by. Amazon’s cashierless automated stores are expanding everywhere, while emerging competitors like Standard Cognition and Grabango are raising sizable sums to bring cashierless technology to more supermarkets.
The general idea is this: Once supermarkets are fitted with an array of cameras, sensors, and computer vision smarts, customers can simply pick items from shelves, put them into their cart, walk out, and have the payment automatically deducted from their account.
While this undoubtedly raises privacy questions — as it is likely as much a massive data-gathering play as it is a customer-convenience exercise — it’s clear that supermarkets of the future will be “smarter” and far more connected than those we’re used to. This is also why we will continue to see investors lining up to back startups like Trigo, which launched out of stealth last July with $7 million in seed funding.
Today, Trigo announced it has raised an additional $22 million in a series A round led by Red Dot Capital, with participation from Vertex Ventures Israel and Hetz Ventures.
How it works
Founded out of Tel Aviv, Israel in 2017, Trigo works with supermarkets to provide cameras, sensor fusion technology, 3D computer vision, and required cloud-based computational power to map shop floors and track consumers as they move around. As with Amazon Go, customers can walk into the store, pick up their goods, and walk out, choosing either to be billed automatically or to pay on the spot through card or cash. Trigo is targeting its technology at all kinds of existing grocery outlets — its 3D space-mapping technology can be “retrofitted” for any existing store.
Although Trigo provides its customers with the necessary hardware, it isn’t developed in-house — its mostly off-the-shelf devices that Trigo sources from the likes of Intel, Dell, and Nvidia. At its heart, Trigo is really a software and machine learning company.
“We use hardware in our system — such as cameras, servers, processors, etc. — that are all standard and off-the-shelf,” Ran Peled, VP of marketing at Trigo, told VentureBeat. “Our ‘secret sauce’ is how our software and algorithms manage this hardware to extract supercomputer capabilities from it.”
Trigo has offered insights into how such systems can leverage the wealth of data that it captures. Customers can “personalize” their in-store shopping experience by opting into a loyalty program, “effectively allowing the retailer to gain insights on their purchases,” according to a statement. Customers can also opt out and receive what Trigo calls an “unidentified” experience.
The startup said its technology is currently being deployed in stores of up to 5,000 square feet in size, more than double the largest Amazon Go store, which is in Seattle and weighs in at around 2,100 square feet. Trigo said the fresh capital injection will enable it to target larger stores and will help it “advance its partnerships” with grocery outlets in the U.S. and Europe.
Trigo’s first client was Israeli supermarket chain Shufersal, which will be installing the technology in some 280 stores over the next five years. Few details are available about other grocery retailers using Trigo, although reports a few months back suggested the company was in talks with U.K. grocery giant Tesco. When asked by VentureBeat, a Trigo spokesperson more or less confirmed this partnership by linking us to one of the newspaper reports from earlier this year.
“There is very strong demand globally among grocery retailers to dramatically improve customer experience,” added Trigo CEO Michael Gabay. “The common denominator is that everyone is searching for technology to enable the most seamless in-and-out shopping experience. These new funds will be used to scale our technology further and support our global expansion.”