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Ahold Delhaize pilots ‘frictionless store’ concept

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Lunchbox technology will be demoed at NRF Big Show

QUINCY, Mass. – Ahold Delhaize USA’s Retail Business Services unit is testing new frictionless store technology called lunchbox that is designed to let people shop a small format store in just seconds by scanning in, shopping, and walking out.

The technology is currently being tested at Retail Business Services’ office in Quincy, Mass.

Retail Business Services partnered with UST Global to develop the technology. 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, chief information officer and executive vice president of information technology 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.”

Retail Business Services says lunchbox is less costly and more efficient than other frictionless store technologies, and can be implemented in a matter of weeks.

“We believed in this concept so much we brought it to our own office,” Scorza said. “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 e-commerce, there are many opportunities for companies to evolve and better serve shoppers,” said Mahesh Athalye, senior director at UST Global. “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.”

Ahold Delhaize USA’s Retail Business Services division provides services to six East Coast grocery brands, including Food Lion, Giant Food, GIANT/MARTIN’S, Hannaford and Stop & Shop, as well as to the online grocery retailer Peapod.


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