Amazon Go Competitors Are Starting to Gain Steam

In yet another example of “where Amazon goes, others follow,” cashierless shopping inches its way to prime time as two more startups enter the nascent space.

The first is autonomous checkout company Standard Cognition, which said it raised $40 million in Series A funding to spur growth. So far, its technology is only available at what it calls the Standard Store, a proof-of-concept location in San Francisco that “offers a wide range of consumer goods,” according to its website.

To shop, customers must first download its checkout app. Then they can enter, press the check-in button, collect what they want and leave. A receipt is emailed afterward.

Standard Cognition has signed four retail customers in Asia, North America and Europe. However, a rep said the only customer it has announced is Paltac, a wholesaler of consumer goods and over-the-counter drugs in Japan. The rep also noted its goal is to have deployments at 3,000 stores in Japan prior to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

The Series A financing was led by early-stage investment firm Initialized Capital—perhaps better known as the fund from former Y Combinator partner Garry Tan and Serena Williams’ husband, Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian. VC firm CRV and seed investor Y Combinator also participated, along with new investors, including early-stage firm Draper Associates.

“In 2019, consumers will start to see autonomous checkout deployed in their favorite stores, and by 2025, it will be common,” said Standard Cognition CEO Jordan Fisher in a statement. “We’re seeing in our San Francisco store that shoppers love the convenience and retailers love the accuracy, cost savings and customer service advantages.”

Standard has raised more than $51 million to date.

Meanwhile, Tel-Aviv-based retail automation platform Trigo Vision said the largest supermarket chain in Israel, Shufersal, will go cashierless by installing Trigo’s platform in its 272 locations.

Shufersal sells consumer goods at discount stores, supermarkets and express stores, as well as via an ecommerce site. It is Trigo’s first customer.

Similar to other executions, Trigo Vision combines a ceiling-based camera network with machine-vision algorithms to eliminate checkout. The cameras track shoppers’ items as they go.

“We believe our cooperation with Trigo will transform the shopping experience and will minimize our customers’ friction points in the stores,” said Shufersal CEO Itzik Abercohen in a statement. “This venture will also drive efficiency and minimize costs across our operation.”

Trigo is backed by $7 million from early stage investor Hetz Ventures and VC firm Vertex Ventures Israel.

Both startups call themselves alternatives to Amazon Go, which was the first out of the gate—at least in the U.S.—with a real-world execution of cashierless retail. Amazon has since expanded from Seattle to Chicago and San Francisco, and reports say it’s thinking about opening 3000 such just-walk-out locations by 2021.

Other companies who have started experimenting with the emerging tech include automated checkout startup Zippin, 7-Eleven, Sam’s Club and (rumor has it) Microsoft.

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