Mastercard
MA
plans to step up the rollout of its checkout-free Shop Anywhere platform following a deal with frictionless technology player Zippin. The first stores to launch as a result of the new global partnership will debut this summer in the U.S., Europe, and South America, though Mastercard has not revealed which retailers it will partner with for the rollout.

In a statement, Zippin said that its computer vision and sensor fusion technology—claimed to be very accurate—will be integrated into Shop Anywhere for use in a range of physical spaces, from stadiums and venues, to convenience stores, shopping malls and airports.

Shop Anywhere was set to be test-piloted in late 2020 with convenience player Circle K; hospitality and food service group Delaware North; Dunkin’; and burger chain White Castle. The platform does not appear to have made much headway with new retailers since then, but the collaboration with Zippin could change that if Mastercard can scale up using the tech company’s proven technology.

Pete Balsavias, senior vice president of global commerce and innovation at Mastercard, told me: “In recent years, we’ve seen a seismic rise in the demand for frictionless experiences that streamline in-store interactions. This has ranged from contactless payments at the point of sale, to order-ahead or curbside pick-up solutions. Computer vision technology has also emerged as a way to enable ‘grab and go’ retail store experiences, making it even easier for people to shop in-person.”

Amazon’s
AMZN
Just Walk Out concept is probably the best known example of computer vision technology, and the online retailer is deploying it in more of its Fresh grocery stores as well as airports.

Zipping targets 200 locations by year-end

Responding to questions, Krishna Motukuri, co-founder and CEO at San Francisco-based Zippin commented: “By joining forces with Shop Anywhere, our AI-powered platform offers an even more compelling value proposition to retailers across segments including travel, sports and entertainment, higher education, healthcare and malls.”

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To date, Zippin has more than 40 stores across the U.S., and 10 internationally, that offer checkout-free shopping thanks to partnerships with hospitality/catering groups such as Aramark
ARMK
, Compass/Levy, and SSP America. Helped by the Mastercard deal, Zippin hopes to be in 200 locations by the end of 2022.

The startup’s biggest single deployment so far has been West Market, a 4,000 square foot convenience store operated by Home Service Oil just outside of St. Louis, Missouri that sells more than 2,500 different products lines.

Over half a million shoppers have now experienced a Zippin-powered store, including at airports. With each new shop launch, the company says that its AI can use deep learning, dynamic data and insights about store operations, inventory levels, and consumer actions to help retailers deliver a more tailored experience to consumers.

One of the main advantages of checkout-free platforms like Zippin, AiFi, Grabango and MishiPay is that they can increase customer throughput, improve analytics, and decrease operating costs. It is why retailers such as Poland’s Zappka and Britain’s Tesco have forged ahead with it.

At football stadium Empower Field at Mile High in Denver where Zippin has been deployed, average transaction times have been cut from around two minutes to 37 seconds, with 30% of transactions lasting just 15 seconds or less. This allowed for a 42% increase in transactions during peak sales periods, as well as lifting overall sales per game.

In a forecast at the end of last year, London-based GlobalData thematic research analyst Jemima Walker said of checkout-free commerce: “Retailers that have already implemented this technology such as Tesco, Aldi, Sainsbury’s, and Carrefour will see their advantage eroded as competitors join the checkout-free retail race in 2022. Checkout-free stores will continue to expand internationally, and major retailers that fail to monitor this trend will find themselves falling behind.”

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