Supermarket Giant Ahold Tests Frictionless Store In Massachusetts

Posted On: 11/25/2019

  • Printer Friendly Version
  • Decrease Text SizeIncrease Text Size
  • PDF


QUINCY, MA -- Retail Business Services, the services company of Ahold Delhaize USA, has announced new frictionless store technology, piloted under the name Lunchbox, which enables individuals to shop a small format store in seconds by scanning in, shopping and walking out. The technology is currently being tested in Retail Business Services' Quincy, MA, office.

Retail Business Services partnered with UST Global, a leading digital transformation solutions company, to develop the store. Retail Business Services led application development, technology connectivity and provided food retail operations expertise, and UST Global and its partners provided the artificial intelligence (AI) technology solution and physical infrastructure for the store.

The technology will be demoed at the National Retail Federation (NRF) Big Show in January in collaboration with UST Global and Intel.

"Lunchbox is an easy, fresh shopping alternative," said Paul Scorza, executive vice-president of IT and CIO for Retail Business Services. "Once registered, shoppers simply scan in, shop and walk out. It's that easy. And it offers fresh, healthy options 24/7. You can grab a snack, a salad, fresh fruit or even a carton of milk on your way home."

Compared to other frictionless store concepts, Lunchbox is efficient. The solution carries a lean cost and can be implemented in a matter of weeks.

"We believed in this concept so much we brought it to our own office," added Scorza. "Our cafeteria that serves more than 1,000 associates was being remodeled, and we were looking for a quick, cost effective solution to give associates access to beverages, snacks and fresh items at a variety of hours. We implemented this solution in just six weeks. Today, thousands of shops, with groups of up to 12 in the store at the same time, have been successfully completed."

The application technology for Lunchbox, created in Retail Business Services' innovation lab and tech hub, is powered by a Retail Business Services' proprietary app, which admits shoppers to the store and charges shoppers for purchases. For ease of payment, services such as PayPal, Venmo, Apply Pay and Google Pay are integrated into the wallet.

Inside the store, AI running on Intel Core i5 and i7 processors-based systems optimized with the Intel Distribution of OpenVino toolkit detects which products are being removed from shelves in the store and anonymous body skeletal tracking connects the right products to the right shopper. The Intel Distribution of OpenVino toolkit enabled lunchbox to use existing Intel-based point-of-sale systems and deploy on-premise AI at maximum performance.

"In the age of ecommerce, there are many opportunities for companies to evolve and better serve shoppers," said UST Global senior director Mahesh Athalye. "Combined with AI/ML technology and purpose-built smartphone applications, solutions like lunchbox, will help deliver frictionless experiences for shoppers seeking a quick, touchless experience."

Retail Business Services LLC provides services to six East Coast grocery brands, including Food Lion, Giant Food, Giant/Martin's, Hannaford and Stop& Shop, as well as the country's largest online grocery retailer, Peapod.