A first for Colruyt Kortrijk: Artificial Intelligence (AI) at Checkouts
Colruyt is the first Belgian supermarket chain to test automatic product recognition. Fruit and vegetables are sold in the Kortrijk store automatically recognised at the point-of-sale (checkout) using artificial intelligence (AI). In collaboration with Robovision, a smart camera was developed and suspended above at the weighing scale that immediately determines which product is present. With this trial, Colruyt is taking a new step in digital progress. During 3 months’ of research, employees and customers of the Kortrijk-based Colruyt store see how this technology can provide more time savings and efficiency at the checkout.
How does it work?
Colruyt is the first Belgian retailer to test the automatic product recognition of fruit and vegetables. “Over the next three months, together with our customers from Kortrijk, we will investigate whether this new technology ensures a more efficient checkout process,” says Rudi Dewulf, Regional Sales Director Colruyt.
When customers place a type of fruit or vegetable on the scale at the checkout, the camera takes a photo. Based on that photo, the system can automatically recognise which product is in the scale. After which customers confirm the correct product using a tablet.
The Software Recognises over 120 kinds of fruits and vegetables
In collaboration with Robovision from Ghent (Belgium), a unique deep-learning model was developed that can recognise 120 types of fruits and vegetables at Colruyt. Thanks to AI, product recognition becomes more and more accurate as more photos are added. The first tests show that in 97% of cases the correct product is presented on the tablet. “We tailormade the software for Colruyt,” says Jonathan Berte, CEO of Robovision. “It is nice to see that our expertise in AI has found its way to a retail environment. This is a unique collaboration with an innovative retail group. Moreover, the project fits perfectly within our mission: the democratisation of AI.”
Colruyt is testing automatic product recognition to see whether it can mean an efficiency gain for the checkout process.
- For example, a conscious choice was made for fruit and vegetables because this range does not have a barcode. Until now, sales assistants entered a code for all fruit and vegetables at the cash register; with automatic product recognition, this is no longer necessary;
- Second, sales assistants can promptly scan the other products while the customer weighs the unpackaged fruit and vegetables using the camera;
- Finally, it could also be that less fruit and vegetables will have to be packaged in the future. “Now we package some fruits and vegetables to avoid confusion between products. With automatic recognition, this issue may disappear,” confirmed Dewulf.
Moreover, Colruyt Kortrijk was deliberately chosen for the trial because it is one of the pilot stores that only offers reusable bags for fruits and vegetables. The software is able to automatically subtract the weight of the bag from the weight of the fruits and vegetables
The first test shows that customers respond enthusiastically and are enthusiastic to start using the new technology because they can take an active role in the checkout process. During the trial in Kortrijk, Colruyt has opted to keep the classic way of weighing by the sales assistant. Customers can always choose between the 2 systems.
Colruyt continuously invests in new digital developments which will make the shopping experience more efficient. For example, Colruyt introduced its electronic price labels this year, organised a test with speech technology in February and is continuously expanding its MyColruyt app. Dewulf: “We believe that product recognition can be the successor to the barcode, which was also innovative 30 years ago.” Expansion of product recognition to other products is not yet planned. “We are curious and await the results of the test to see what this innovative technology can mean in the future,” concludes Rudi Dewulf.
Over Colruyt Laagste Prijzen
Colruyt is de Laagste Prijzen-supermarkt van Colruyt Group. De winkelketen garandeert al meer dan 40 jaar de laagste prijs voor elk product, op elk moment. Klanten vinden er zo’n 12.000 voedings- en bijna 9.000 niet-voedingsproducten, van dagverse groenten en fruit en vlees tot schoonmaak- en verzorgingsproducten. Colruyt onderscheidt zich ook door zijn eenvoud, efficiënt winkelen en inspanningen op het vlak van duurzaamheid. De keten baat ongeveer 240 winkels uit in België en het Groothertogdom Luxemburg en telt bijna 18.000 medewerkers. Klanten kunnen hun boodschappen ook bestellen in de Colruyt-webshop en afhalen in de ongeveer 200 Collect&Go-afhaalpunten.
Robovision ontwikkelde een schaalbare AI oplossing, die ingezet wordt in verschillende sectoren, waaronder videoanalyse-toepassingen in de retail- en beveiligingssector, maar ook in de agricultuur, maak- en auto-industrie. Robovision werkt ondertussen met een team van meer dan 40 werknemers aan allerhande projecten in samenwerking met bedrijven over de hele wereld, van Brazilië tot Japan. Opgericht in 2008 als consultancy bedrijf is het ondertussen geëvolueerd naar een productgedreven onderneming die het potentieel van de alomtegenwoordige data tracht te benutten, met als hoofd- doel het democratiseren van AI.
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