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Standard AI acquires Skip for touch-free checkout

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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Standard AI, an autonomous checkout technology provider, has acquired Skip, a developer of self-checkout kiosks, CEO Jordan Fisher tells Axios exclusively.

Why it matters: As retailers face a labor crunch, they're increasingly turning to new technologies like computer vision and AI to help them bolster their frontline workforce.

What's happening: The acquisition will combine Skip's cloud-based point of sale system and back-office operations with Standard’s front-of-the-store computer vision system.

  • Customers can go up to a kiosk, scan a code, download an app and “skip even this step of scanning your items,” Fisher says.
  • It becomes “touch points for people to get upgraded to an even better experience,” Fisher adds.
  • Fisher declined to give financial details of the transaction.

What’s next: The San Francisco-based company hopes to bring its self checkout and autonomous retail platform to market later this year.

  • Standard AI will also aim to provide more services around the store, such as with over the counter purchases or food ordering, Fisher says.

How it works: Standard AI installs cameras overhead and uses computer vision to allow customers to pick something off the shelf and purchase the item without the need to check out.

  • Its cameras can also assist with out-of-stock alerts in real time, planogram compliance and insight and analytics around merchandising.
  • Its technology can be found in some Canadian convenience store chain Circle K locations, American Airlines Center, and the University of Houston, to name a few.
  • Standard AI plans to open 50 additional stores this year.

Zoom out: "There's been a lot of progress there to say, 'how do we really cut manual effort out of the process?'" says Hemal Nagarsheth, a partner at Kearney's financial institutions practice.

  • The more retailers add automation and other features like electronic receipts, the lesser the burden it will be on consumers and the more ready they will be to adopt new technologies.
  • "I think the innovation is really sort of driving choice," he says.
  • However, consumer education, tech savviness and potential for fraud are bottlenecks for merchant adoption, he says.

Flashback: In February 2021, Standard AI raised $150 million in a Series C round led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2, valuing the company around $1 billion.

  • CRV, EQT Ventures, TI Platform Management and SK Networks participated.
  • The company has raised about $266 million as of November, per PitchBook.

State of play: Large players like Amazon are entering the fray, rolling out their own touch-free checkout technology. Amazon's Just Walk Out technology is projected to expand its reach in 2023.

  • Meanwhile, Europe’s Trigo raised a $100 million equity financing round led by Temasek and 83North in October.
  • Berkeley, California-based Grabango snagged $39 million in its Series B led by Commerce Ventures in 2021.
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