RBS pilots frictionless store technology

  • December 10, 2019
  • imc

Retail Business Services (RBS), the services company of Ahold Delhaize USA, has announced frictionless store technology, piloted under the name Lunchbox, which lets individuals shop in small stores in seconds by scanning in, shopping and walking out.

The technology is being tested in RBS’s Quincy, Massachusetts, office. RBS partnered UST Global, a digital transformation company, to develop the store. RBS led application development, technology connectivity and provided food retail operations expertise, and UST Global and its partners provided the artificial intelligence (AI) technology and physical infrastructure for the store.

The technology will be demonstrated at the National Retail Federation Big Show in January in New York in collaboration with UST Global and Intel.

“Lunchbox is an easy, fresh shopping alternative,” said Paul Scorza, CIO for RBS. “Once registered, shoppers simply scan in, shop and walk out. It’s that easy. And it offers fresh, healthy options 24/7. You can grab a snack, a salad, fresh fruit or even a carton of milk on your way home.”

Compared with other frictionless store concepts, Lunchbox is said to be more efficient. It carries a lean cost and can be implemented in a matter of weeks.

“We believed in this concept so much we brought it to our own office,” said Scorza. “Our cafeteria that serves more than 1000 associates was being remodelled, and we were looking for a quick, cost-effective way to give associates access to beverages, snacks and fresh items at a variety of hours. We implemented this in just six weeks. Today, thousands of shops, with groups of up to 12 in the store at the same time, have been successfully completed.”

The application technology for Lunchbox, created in RBS’s innovation lab and tech hub, is powered by a proprietary app, which admits shoppers to the store and charges shoppers for purchases. For ease of payment, services such as PayPal, Venmo, Apply Pay and Google Pay are integrated into the wallet.

Inside the store, AI running on Intel Core i5 and i7 processors-based systems optimised with the Intel distribution of the Open Vino toolkit detects which products are being removed from shelves in the store and anonymous body skeletal tracking connects the right products to the right shopper. The toolkit let Lunchbox use existing Intel-based point-of-sale systems and deploy on-premise AI.

“In the age of ecommerce, there are many opportunities for companies to evolve and better serve shoppers,” said Mahesh Athalye, senior director of UST Global. “Combined with AI and ML technology and purpose-built smartphone applications, solutions like Lunchbox, will help deliver frictionless experiences for shoppers seeking a quick, touchless experience.”

RBS provides services to six East Coast grocery brands, including Food Lion, Giant Food, Giant Martin’s, Hannaford and Stop & Shop, as well as the USA’s largest online grocery retailer, Peapod.