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Autonomous Grocery Stores With Automated Operations

Updated: Aug 24, 2023

Digital era has brought about various changes to our shopping habits and autonomous self-service stores have prompted the retail industry to rethink its approach to operations. An overwhelming number of customers still choose to buy their groceries by visiting physical stores rather than ordering them online — and it's not for lack of options. Autonomous technology providers are now supporting retailers to bring stores closer to where the demand is by enhancing their efficiency while delivering a superior customer experience.


Nevertheless, there are still aspects of grocery shopping that buyers get frustrated over. Waiting in long lines for checkouts and searching for out-of-stock items are only some of them. Therefore, the solution (and the future of grocery stores) lies in automation.


Blockstore Group has partnered with 6sense Innovations to make autonomous and automated grocery stores a reality. Read on to learn how these two firms have worked together to create the ultimate end-to-end technological solution for autonomous grocery stores.


Blockstore Autonomous Grocery Stores With Automated Operations


Blockstore Group is a tech start-up from Finland that offers autonomous and automated grocery store infrastructure and services for grocery retailers. The company provides a full self-service store set-up, including software and hardware elements. The cloud-based technology platform encompasses all key business capabilities such as supply chain, automatic inventory management, and walk-in walk-out shopping experience, thus offering efficiencies across the end-to-end value chain.


Blockstore-enabled autonomous grocery stores provide grocery retailers extraordinary capabilities. Smart stores can monitor and report their own condition, and grocery operations can be controlled and managed through remote access. This way, new opportunities for optimization are created.



Smart Store Smart Supply chain chart
Blockstore Group solution description.

6sense Innovations’ products play an important role in Blockstore's complete solution to deliver superior customer experience, security and efficiency. This firm’s state-of-the-art computer vision software integrates with the Blockster platform. The system uses cameras to capture video, interpret it through AI to derive meaningful information, and utilise this information to communicate customers’ needs to Blockster. The end result is an autonomous brick-and-mortar grocery store with improved customer experience, cost-efficiency, and scalability of operations.


Exceptional Customer Experience


Blockstore-enabled autonomous grocery stores that feature 6sense Innovations character tracking capabilities are designed to boost the overall customer shopping experience in two important ways. They allow for a fast, seamless, and personalised shopping journey, and they provide a safe and secure environment for it. In order to illustrate the advantages of these stores better, we will examine how they work.


The blockstore-enabled autonomous grocery stores can be open 24/7. The walk-in walk-out shopping experience includes three steps:


1) All consumers can enter the grocery store 24/7 using their registered smartphone app or showing their credit/debit card at the payment terminal to start shopping.


2) Once the payment method has been accepted, character recognition technology and sensor systems are used to understand which cabinets need to be opened, when, and to whom. When the consumer places their hand on the intelligent cabinet door handle, it instantly unlocks itself, enabling the customer to select their items.


3) After the person has finished their shopping, they can leave the shop. Payment is automatically taken. A receipt is available in the app, or it can be printed at the payment terminal.


6sense’s computer vision starts to operate once the customer enters the store. Every person gets unique identifier while they visit the store. The advanced multi-camera solution can always locate customers to a certain point of the store and track them even if the store is very crowded.

Entering store-video.

The computer vision notes when a person approaches and reaches to open a cabinet. If they are a paying customer, the software sends a signal to Blockstore’s backend to unlock the cabinet. The customer can look at the groceries, pick the ones they want to buy, take them out of the cabinet, and place them in their bag immediately. The intelligent cabinets will note what groceries have been removed and add them to the customer’s basket.

Hand on cabinet handle-video.

This process can be repeated countless times while the customer is in the store. The computer vision will track them around and communicate with Blockstore’s backend simultaneously. Once the customer heads toward the exit, computer vision will send the signal to Blockstore’s platform that they’ve finished their shopping journey. Blockstore will calculate their bill and invoice the customer accordingly.


This walk-in/walk-out system is very fast. The customers don’t have to wait in line to pay for the articles, which will eliminate a major source of frustration the industry is currently facing. In addition, they’ll always have access to the groceries they’re looking for because the intelligent cabinets can note what items are out of stock.


The automated grocery store replenishment system analyzes when products are running low. Then, it sends orders independently to the warehouse for the replenishment needs. No humans are therefore needed in the ordering phase. The whole process is quite convenient and intuitive, so customers shouldn’t struggle finding their way around. However, if they happen to need any help, the store will provide it digitally.


That’s not all. Thanks to 6sense, the customers and the store owners won’t need to worry about safety, either. Its platform works as a full-fledged surveillance security system that provides third-party security agencies with a real-time view of the shop floor and integrates with major alarm receiving centers. It detects any suspicious activity and alerts security guards on call.


On top of that, 6sense’s proprietary high-end recording software can capture the video for future reference. This way, Blockstore-enabled autonomous and automated grocery stores prevent any attempts of shoplifting, vandalism, or any other criminal activity.

Customers entering Blockstore Group's automated grocery store.

Customers in Blockstore Group's automated grocery store.

Superior Cost Efficiency


Cost efficiency is another advantage of autonomous and automated grocery stores. It arises from two elements — the implementation and maintenance of the computer vision platform and the deployment of the Blockstore solution and related processes. Let's take a closer look at both.


In contrast to many other companies that offer autonomous store solutions, the 6sense computer vision system doesn’t require you to buy expensive equipment. You don’t need any special hardware or AI-powered cameras. Any regular surveillance cameras will do because 6sense’s solution is software-driven. The company will deliver its native edge computing device to a Blockstore-enabled smart store and run all its computer vision operations from it.


Since all the solutions are cloud-based, the device will already be set up and ready to use as soon as it’s delivered. The company will also update it automatically whenever necessary. These upgrades, as well as any maintenance work, are done remotely. You’ll benefit from the updated and improved software in a continuous fashion.


When it comes to the computer vision system, the retailer won't be burdened with any additional costs, from setting up and installation to implementation and maintenance. There will be no need to hire an IT team or seek outside assistance. 6sense’s team will take over as soon as your device is connected to a power source and the internet and provide requested support with Blockstore.


The same goes for Blockstore’s products. The company’s personnel will install the equipment and handle all supporting implementations. Grocery retailers can run all in-store operations remotely through the Blockster platform, which will provide them with the ability to customize each store and their performance with ease. On top of that, Blockstore’s remote and local customer support team will be there to answer any questions and help you resolve issues related to their products.


The retailer won’t have to spend any additional money on vision-related hardware or updates even when they decide to add new features to their stores. Namely, 6sense’s solution will automatically update and adapt to retailers’ business needs and requirements because it’s software-based. For instance, the company’s already working on a valuable analytics update at the moment. It’s adding a heat map that helps track customers as they move around the store.


Scalability of Operations


Last but not least on our list of benefits is the scalability of operations. Most companies that offer self-store solutions nowadays cater to stores of particular sizes or those found in specific types of locations. However, that’s not the case with Blockstore autonomous stores.


Blockstore’s solution allows retailers freedoms they can’t enjoy with traditional shops. That’s because its concept of self-stores is highly adaptable and applies to any type of retail business you’d like to run. All stores operate similarly, regardless of whether they’re a big market in a mall or a small shop in a car park. Their location doesn’t matter either.


So, you can start with a small business and grow it over time, or you can open a chain of stores in numerous locations around the globe right off the bat — either way, Blockstore's complete solution complemented with 6sense’s products will cater to you equally well.


Conclusion


Blockstore’s autonomous grocery store solution offers a new and cost-effective way for retailers to run their businesses. These stores leverage the advanced Blockster platform, Blockstore management services, and 6sense Innovations’ computer vision software to create the ultimate shopping experience. They’re easy to manage, economically efficient, and highly scalable. If that sounds intriguing enough, head to the Blockstore’s official website and check out its offer.





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