Startup’s clip-on device for smart carts deployed at Shufersal

Israel’s largest supermarket chain will be using at least 2,000 of Shopic’s cameras and screens in 30 stores by the end of next month

Sharon Wrobel is a tech reporter for The Times of Israel.

Israeli computer vision startup Shopic's clip-on device for smart grocery carts. (Courtesy)
Israeli computer vision startup Shopic's clip-on device for smart grocery carts. (Courtesy)

A clip-on device for smart carts based on computer vision developed by an Israeli startup has customers doing their grocery shopping online while in the supermarket and saying goodbye to long checkout lines.

Tel Aviv-based startup Shopic has developed a device that it says can be placed on any supermarket shopping cart. As customers do their shopping, the artificial intelligence-powered device identifies products being put in and taken out of the smart cart without requiring the scanning of barcodes. It has an accuracy of 99.4%, the company says.

The screen device displays prices using a camera applying AI in the form of computer vision algorithms It can detect products thrown into a cart while it’s in motion, or multiple products put into a cart simultaneously. It can support over 50,000 items. Shoppers can pay at the cart and skip the checkout line.

On Tuesday, Shopic announced that Shufersal, Israel’s largest supermarket chain, will deploy at least 2,000 of its devices across 30 stores nationwide by the end of March. Shufersal operates 395 branches in Israel.

“Shufersal’s rapid ramp-up helps place Shopic at the head of the field for smart cart solutions,” said Shopic’s CEO and co-founder Raz Golan. “This is a deployment of unprecedented scale, and it validates our vision for the future of frictionless grocery shopping experiences.”

Founded in 2015 by Golan and Dan Bendler, both former security analysts at Check Point Software Technologies, and software developer Eran Kravitz, Shopic this year launched a pilot for its smart cart devices to be tested at two stores of US supermarket chain Wegmans in upstate New York.

Shopper uses computer vision-based clip-on device developed by Israeli startup Shopic. (Courtesy)

The startup raised $35 million in a series B investment round in August led by Qualcomm Ventures to make a foray into the US market. Other investors in the financing round included Vintage Investment Partners and Clal Insurance, together with Shopic’s existing investors IBI Tech Fund, Tal Ventures, Claridge Israel and Shufersal. To date the startup has raised a total of $56 million in funding.

Data collected from a pilot project conducted at Shufersal stores showed that 12% to 15% of their revenue was processed using the startup’s technology. Customers’ shopping basket sizes were 78% larger than average, and monthly spending was 8% higher. Checkout times took less than one minute when using Shopic’s smart carts, compared to 3.5 minutes when using self-checkout lanes and 9 minutes when using cashier lanes.

“Shopic provides a superior technological solution that delivers all the benefits of online shopping to physical stores in a personalized, effective and fully transparent manner – without the checkout line,” said Shufersal CEO Ori Watermann. “The artificial intelligence powering the technology enables us to constantly improve our customers’ shopping experience based on their purchase habits.”

Smart cashier-less checkout technologies for retail and grocery are expected to process $387 billion in transactions by 2025, up from about $2 billion in 2020, according to a study from Juniper Research.

The trend of checkout-free shopping technologies in the smart cart space is emerging as supermarket and retail giants worldwide are scrambling to offer new consumer experiences and conveniences — so-called frictionless shopping — amid fierce competition, razor-thin margins in the grocery space, supply chain management issues and the continued expansion of the likes of Amazon into the grocery retail business.

The commerce giant offers its Go and Just Walk Out shopping experiences at Amazon Go and Amazon Fresh locations in the US and the UK, where shoppers walk out with their items, skipping the checkout process.

Israeli computer vision startup Trigo has developed checkout-free shopping tech that is already operational at a Tesco grocery store in London, REWE shops in Berlin and Cologne, a Netto City store in Munich and an Aldi Nord in the central Dutch city of Utrecht. Last year, the startup also announced a pilot plan in the US.

But whereas Amazon has to build custom-made stores for its tech, and Trigo specializes in retrofitting existing spaces to turn them into fully digital stores, Shopic says its clip-on device is compatible with any standard grocery cart, “removing the need for grocers to invest heavily in upgrading store network infrastructure and making the system quick and easy to deploy.”

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