Ahold Delhaize USA is following up the initial teasings of a fully digital store format with a new pilot project already in its testing phase. Lunchbox—what the new pilot format has been dubbed—is employing what the retailer calls "frictionless store technology," which will help Ahold and its services company Retail Business Services stay competitive in an ever-evolving market.
“Lunchbox is an easy, fresh shopping alternative,” said Paul Scorza, EVP, IT, and CIO for Retail Business Services. “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.”
In order to unlock the full capabilities of its latest pilot project, Ahold Delhaize teamed up with UST Global, a digital transformation solutions company that is lending its articifical intelligence (AI) technology solutions and physical infrastructure to the store.
“In the age of e-commerce, there are many opportunities for companies to evolve and better serve shoppers,” said Mahesh Athalye, Senior Director for UST Global. “Combined with AI/ML technology and purpose-built smartphone applications, solutions like Lunchbox, will help deliver frictionless experiences for shoppers seeking a quick, touchless experience.”
The store works similarly to others on the market: via an app. An app admits shoppers into the store where AI running on Intel® Core i5 and i7 processors-based systems monitor which products are being removed from shelves while anonymous body skeletal tracking connects the right products to the right shopper. The app also serves as the check-out kiosk. All of this ground-breaking technology was developed in Retail Business Services’ innovation lab and tech hub.
The pilot is currently being tested in Retail Business Services’ Quincy, Massachusetts, office, which Scorza attributed to the fact that: “We believed in this concept so much we brought it to our own office. Our cafeteria that serves more than 1,000 associates was being remodeled, and we were looking for a quick, cost effective solution to give associates access to beverages, snacks, and fresh items at a variety of hours. We implemented this solution 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.”
According to a press release, the technology will be demoed at the National Retail Federation (NRF) Big Show in January in collaboration with UST Global and Intel.
As Ahold Delhaize and other grocery retailers continue to reshape the brick-and-mortar landscape, Deli Market News will continue to report.