Pixevia Chosen as Tech Partner for Rewe Group’s Cashierless, Autonomous Convenience Stores in Lithuania
After a successful pilot, IKI – the Lithuanian brand of the giant REWE retail group – opens the second of up to 4 frictionless stores planned by end of 2023
IKI, the second-biggest supermarket chain in Lithuania, has opened its second cashierless convenience store in Vilnius, following a successful pilot using technology from Lithuanian smart-retail solutions provider, Pixevia. The new IKI Express 24/7 store is located on the landmark White Bridge in Vilnius, that connects the old town to the main business district. Part of REWE Group, one of Europe’s largest retailers with more than 10,000 stores in more than 20 countries, IKI plans to have up to 4 autonomous stores in operation across Lithuania by the end of 2023.
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Frictionless retail, which provides a seamless and convenient shopping experience for consumers by eliminating checkouts, is a growing trend in the global retail industry. It is primarily driven by advances in technology such as artificial intelligence, computer vision, payment systems, and declining computing power costs which have enabled retailers to offer cashierless stores. Amazon was one of the first movers in this market, launching its Amazon Go stores in the US (branded as Amazon Fresh in the UK) from 2018. Many other retailers such as Aldi, Carrefour, Sainsbury’s and 7-Eleven are now testing frictionless technology. However, it was Pixevia that opened the first autonomous store ever in Europe back in 2019.
With Pixevia’s technology, retail customers tap any payment card, phone or watch wallet, or retailer mobile app at the store doors to enter. They can pick items up and put them back with no need for any scanning. Inputs from shelf sensors and camera video streams in the store are inputted into Pixevia’s AI platform, which determines exactly what each customer has selected. It presents the entire list of items to customers in real time, allowing them to pay with another tap of a card before leaving the store. The shopper gets the receipt instantly, before they leave the store. Pixevia’s AI platform also alerts store employees automatically about any goods that need replenishing on the shelves, and predicts the need to reorder stock.
The Pixevia platform supports the IKI Express 24/7 store’s full range of convenience products, including bakery, coffee machine, slush drinks, refrigerated food, ice cream, hygiene products, beer, wine, energy drinks, and tobacco products. Pixevia says that customers can be in and out of the store in 15 seconds. Food products can also be warmed up, eaten at a dedicated food counter and paid for only when leaving the store. Shoppers can put all their goods immediately into their own bags – there is no need to carry a conventional basket.
Nijolė Kvietkauskaitė, CEO of IKI Lietuva, says: In February last year, we opened the first autonomous store in the Baltic and Nordic countries. This AI-powered store has proven highly successful, attracting new customers and demonstrating exceptional accuracy. Following a thorough evaluation of the technology, we have now launched a second store featuring an expanded product selection to provide even greater convenience to our clientele. The successful deployment of this autonomous shopping technology means we are also exploring its integration into larger-scale stores in the future.”
IKI’s Express 24/7 White Bridge store was initially launched as a conventional outlet with cashiers but was transitioned into an autonomous store in early 2023. The sales area is 95 square metres, twice as large as in IKI’s first cashierless store, and offers more than 1,000 SKUs.
Mindaugas Eglinskas, founder and CEO at Pixevia, comments: “Pixevia is helping IKI pioneer new aspects of cashierless shopping. The main challenge was to convert to frictionless shopping using the same store layout as a regular IKI Express 24/7 convenience store.This involved using the same product range, shelves, design, distances between shelves to avoid compromising the store’s look and feel. The project also involved integrations with a tobacco dispenser, including manual age verification, sound messages, REWE’s payment system, doors, gates, security systems, and providing security alerts.”
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