Spotlight: Omnitalk Retail visits the Trigo-powered REWE store in Cologne, Germany

Trigo Comms

29 June 2022

This past month, retail tech thought leaders and influencers Chris Walton and Anne Mezzenga of Omnitalk Retail visited the Trigo-powered REWE store in Cologne, Germany.

Check out their visit in the video above or read a summary of their visit below.

Testing the frictionless checkout technology

Chris and Anne visited one of the “coolest checkout-free experiences in the world” at the hybrid REWE Pick&Go store in Cologne. To test the speed and ease of the frictionless checkout technology, Anne provided Chris with a list of items to buy in the store and they timed how long it would take for him to walk in, pick up the items, and leave the store.

However, the items Anne chose were not random, “the reason I sent him on the lookout for those specific items,” she says, “is because those are typically challenging items for computer vision cameras to identify.”

The list included the following:

  1. Cold bottle of water
  2. Pack of gum
  3. Pretzel from the bakery
  4. Latte from the coffee machine
  5. Chris’ addition – beer (they are in Germany, after all)

While Chris was racing against the clock, Anne explains a little more about the store:

“Now what’s unique about this store is that there are a few ways that you can shop the store. It’s a hybrid store, that means people can just walk in, go pick things up off the shelf and have a traditional shopping experience, have to wait in a queue, [and] checkout with a cashier. They also have the option of doing self-checkout in this store…But what I’m having Chris do today is actually the fully checkout-free experience.”

It took Chris less than two minutes to download the REWE Pick&Go app – all he needed to do was his name and credit card information and he was ready to go! Similar to the seamless process of boarding a plane at the airport, Chris simply scanned the QR code generated in the app, walked through the turnstile, and began picking up the items on Anne’s shopping list.

“The reason I sent him on the lookout for those specific items,” Anne says, “is because those are typically challenging items for computer vision cameras to identify. We have a pack of gum – which is a very small item with small writing and small packaging, we have a pretzel from a bakery case that has typically been challenging for the computer to recognize.”

“We also have the coffee I added, a self-dispensing beverage, so the cameras have to identify that Chris is the one that is dispensing the beverage, without any packaging on it, and that that is tied to him as a shopper. And then finally we have Chris getting some beer, which is actually a great thing that he added on because that will typically require age verification in a store like this.”

The REWE Pick&Go seamless checkout experience

The Cologne REWE store is located in a very busy shopping district, on one of the busiest streets in all of Germany. You can easily spot people on their way to work or school, so the REWE Pick&Go seamless checkout experience provides them with a quick way to buy things that they need as they start, or finish, their day.

Shortly after Chris appears and hands Anne the latte she requested, he shows the timer from when he first entered the store and says, “three minutes, that’s how long it took me to do that”

The longest part of the shopping process was the latte because Chris had to wait for the coffee to dispense, but everything else was “super simple.”

“Is there anything else people should know about the experience, that you know while you were in there that you’d call out,” Anne asked Chris.

“No. I mean, overall, it was super easy. I had like zero complaints whatsoever. And you know, I’m a pretty big retail nerd. The app was easy to download. I scan it to get into the store. The doors opened. And, you know, the longest thing was just waiting for the coffee to be made. That was probably like half my time in there and then I just grabbed everything off the shelf, opened the cases for the bread, opened the cases for the refrigeration, you know, which is not an easy thing to do in these systems, and got the gum and just the doors parted like the red sea and I walk out of the store and there was, I’m done.”

As they continued discussing frictionless checkout technology, Chris receives a notification that his receipt arrived, “but here’s the other thing. I’ve already got my receipt, Anne. This is pretty crazy,” Chris says, as shows the camera the line items of his receipt. They reveal “a hundred percent accuracy, pretty impressive. I think I kept the clock running here to give you guys an idea….So, like basically, five forty-five [minutes] right now on the clock for this whole experience from start to receipt finish, you know, pretty quick.”

Overall, they described REWE’s experience as easy, fast, and accurate, or, in other words, what you’d expect from frictionless checkout.

So, if you find yourself in Cologne, don’t miss out on one of the best hybrid autonomous stores in the world and hop over for a visit: Zeppelinstraße 2, 50667 Köln, Germany.