Imagr, the New Zealand-based company, is backing a vision-based approach for contactless, automated shopping. Unlike Amazon Go-stores, the company is leveraging walk-in and out by eliminating the use of cameras and sensors to monitor the shopper.
Without scanning or paying at the checkout, they only captured the images of products going into a shopping cart. In the initial stage, the startup has innovated tech that can be attached to the trolley to detect product labels. This converted normal trolleys into virtual carts where shoppers can check out without any human intervention.
Will Chomley, CEO and co-founder, said “With Covid, I think what you probably saw was a huge rush on supermarkets that really exposed a number of things retailers weren’t prepared for. It also really highlighted the fact that the end-user wanted a solution that was completely frictionless, and it demonstrated that their infrastructure was not capable of handling that sort of thing.”
“But it also showed that as staff started to refuse to turn up to work because they didn’t want to catch it, retailers needed solutions to be able to run these stores on less staff.”
Recently, to demonstrate its tech, Imagr had a pop-up shop in London. The company is also raising its Series A funding after it raised $9.5 million in seed funding in a round led by Toshiba Tec in November 2019.
Chomley says “Imagr has raised a total of $12.5 million to date, and as it raises its next round, is in the market for strategic partners rather than just VC money. The company says the tech is there, it just needs to scale.”
Originally, the startup’s smart shopping carts was competing with a halo that houses lights and cameras to detect products, which can be seen in Japan’s 150 H2O. However, this version of the shopping cart is not the end product for Imagr.
The startup plans to roll out a modular version by Q4. In the modular version, instead of an entire cart, you will get hardware attached to a standard cart.
Chloe Lamb, brand and communications lead at Imagr, says that the company has built a prototype that’s currently for sale. They also hope to offer inventory analytics to help retailers avoid inventory distortion in the future.
“Our intention would be to essentially provide them the ability to track everything that comes in and out,” said Lamb. “In a perfect world, like, I don’t know all the coke sells out, and it pings one of the retail workers in the store and she’s got to restock, shelf 7A. That’s what we’re working towards. We don’t have a hard solution for it but there’s definitely demand for that.”