A Look Back at 2022: When Autonomous Retail Went Mainstream

It feels like just yesterday that we reflected back on our 2021 accomplishments. From the opening of baseball’s first autonomous store to the launch of Circle K’s next fully-retrofitted autonomous experience, we had a lot happening.


December 23, 2022

Has another year gone by already?

It feels like just yesterday that we reflected back on our 2021 accomplishments. From the opening of baseball’s first autonomous store to the launch of Circle K’s next fully-retrofitted autonomous experience, we had a lot happening.

This time around, however, it’s honestly hard to believe just how far the autonomous retail industry has come in only twelve months. Narrowing it down to five things is no easy task.

But if we have to choose, here’s what stands out.

Vision Os Image

1. Autonomous retail goes beyond checkout automation While autonomous retail got its start in checkout automation, we always knew that the bigger picture was using AI and computer vision to bring eCommerce-level capabilities to brick-and-mortar stores.

Here’s the deal: much of retail remains a black box from a data perspective. What do customers most often put back on shelves, how do they interact with a new end cap, and what are your inventory levels? It’s traditionally hard to answer questions like these.

Computer vision changes the game by digitizing the movement of products and people. Not only does it make checkout automation possible, but the same platforms built to do checkout automation can be used to do so much more.

For us, we began taking that step back in October when we announced the Vision OS^ platform at the NACS Show. Expect to see more “leveling up” of autonomous retail throughout 2023.

Autonomous retail image

2. We delivered receipts in record time and upped the game Simply doing checkout automation isn’t enough. Customers also have to get their receipts quickly.

Next time you shop at an autonomous store, pay careful attention to how long it takes to get a receipt. Is it a half-hour? Two hours? Whatever it is, it’s important to understand that time to receipt, or TTR, is an indicator of how much automation exists in any platform.

The benchmark for success—where everyone needs to be—is three minutes.

For us, we’re proud to say we’re getting close with an average of around fifteen minutes. This is generally seen as best-in-class for 2022—and especially considering we do this using only computer vision without relying on shelf sensors. But there’s still room for improvement.

Expect receipts to get a lot quicker in 2023.

Delivered receipt image

3. Four retrofitted autonomous stores go live at once! Remember when any autonomous store was newsworthy?

Back when we opened our original test store on San Francisco’s Mission Street, people would fly across the world just to experience this new way of shopping. Fast-forward to today, and it’s hard to keep track of just how many autonomous stores exist.

What was once novel has become increasingly normal. In August alone, we opened four retrofitted autonomous retail experiences. This means we were able to install the technology into those stores, as they exist, without changing their look or layout. It’s a testament to the investments we’ve made in our operations team, but also how quickly autonomous retail is expanding in our communities.

Expect an increased rollout of autonomous stores in 2023.

Retrofitted autonomous stores

4. Autonomous retail goes back to school From corporate campuses to convenience stores, universities, and event venues, autonomous retail is increasingly found in a diverse range of environments.

Universities have become an especially important use case for the technology. After all, students are in a hurry and don’t have the time to wait in lines.

But when we see how quickly students adopt and embrace this new way of shopping, it leaves us convinced that what we’re really witnessing is the beginning of a much broader expansion of the technology. When someone spends four years shopping without lines, their expectations for convenience change.

And the results are in: autonomous retail is a success. On average, we see autonomous stores attract 20% more shoppers. Of those who use the platform, they tend to purchase 20% more. What’s not to like about that?

Retail goes back to school

5. Shoppers profess their love for autonomous retail But let’s be real: few things make us happier than seeing the reaction to that first autonomous shopping trip.

It simply feels like magic. Even at Standard AI where we’re knee-deep in this technology every day, we can still recall our first experiences with it. It’s that impactful.

The checkout queue is just one of those things that few people ever thought to question. When people realize that it doesn’t have to be there—that they can treat a store like a personal pantry and quickly grab-and-go—you can see the look of awe and wonder on their faces.

“How does it work?”

“Am I really okay to just leave?”

Astonishment quickly turns to smiles and grins as they realize that yes, it really is that simple—at which point many excitedly say that they wish the technology was in every store.

But don’t take our word for it. See for yourself!

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