Home Development IMAGR gets smart with ‘world-first’ smartcart for shoppers
IMAGR Founder William Chomley with Foodstuffs North Island CIO Peter Muggleston at Four Square Ellerslie. IMAGR Founder William Chomley with Foodstuffs North Island CIO Peter Muggleston at Four Square Ellerslie.

New Zealand computer vision and artificial intelligence solutions provider IMAGR is claiming a world first trial of new artificial intelligence technology that “brings the checkout to the trolley” at an Auckland Foodstuffs store.

IMAGR announced today that it had launched its “innovative” shopper solution SMARTCART to Four Square Ellerslie at a time when retailers around the globe are looking for ways to give consumers more streamlined options for shopping. The recent launch of Amazon Go in Seattle is a case in poinr.

IMAGR says the Auckland store will be the flagship Foodstuffs retail outlet to test SMARTCART, a computer vision technology that recognises products as soon as they are placed in a shopping cart, eliminating the need for barcode scanning, checkouts and queueing.

“We’re delighted Foodstuffs is the first retailer in the world that we’re partnering with to make this happen. This is the first significant step in enhancing the way we do our shopping here in New Zealand and abroad,” says IMAGR founder William Chomley. “It’s great to see Foodstuffs embracing technology like this to empower customer experiences.”

To activate SMARTCART, shoppers download an app and link a payment method to their account. In-store, they pair their smartphone with the shopping cart, and as they add products to their cart the items appear on their phone’s virtual basket – removing traditional barcode scanning and the checkout process altogether.

SMARTCART applies machine learning technology to identify the patterns in a customer’s behaviour and make suggestions for recipes, as well as guiding users around the store, based on their product choices. The technology is the brainchild of Chomley, who says he started conceptualising a solution two years ago to improve convenience and help eliminate the frustration that comes with queuing at the checkout.

Chomley says that, since then, IMAGR has grown to a team of 12, with artificial intelligence specialists from around the world working on the technology from its Auckland headquarters.

According to Chomley, the current retail landscape calls for brick and mortar retailers to find more efficient ways to deliver tailored, frictionless experiences.

“Personalisation and convenience are becoming industry norms, bricks and mortar is no exception, people want ease of access to products and to bypass queues. We’re focused on creating a hyper-personalised in-store experience that also includes an ‘alternative’ method for checking out. SMARTCART provides another payment solution to retailers’ normal checkout and self-service offerings,” says Chomley.

Foodstuffs North Island chief information officer Peter Muggleston says brick and mortar retailers must embrace AI technologies to enhance consumer experiences and ensure they lead the field in what they offer.

Muggleston said: “We’re committed to giving Kiwi shoppers the best service, experiences and innovation. This technology will give consumers more options, reduced wait times and variety during their store visits, giving our staff more time to offer their advice and help in other ways.”

In November, IMAGR received a significant investment from Sage Technologies to improve its retrofit solution towards the testing (beta) phase.

IMAGR says it is in talks with retailers in Australia, the UK, Europe and America, with the aim of significant user adoption at three of the world’s leading retailers by 2022.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

 

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