Metropolitan Market is the latest supermarket operator to implement digital technologies designed to optimize ordering, inventory management, merchandising and in-store labor use.
In a pilot project at San Francisco-based Focal Systems, Metropolitan Market, which has nine locations in Washington state (with a 10th planned to open), is deploying hundreds of small, inexpensive shelf cameras to digitize shelves every hour.
The Focal Systems operating system (FocalOS) will then use this data to automate many in-store processes for greater operational efficiency, the companies said. Benefits include accurate just-in-time ordering; replacing manual daily out-of-stock scans with automated hourly scans; improving product availability for customers by making replenishment staff more productive; and reducing food waste through better product ordering, the companies said.
“In a rapidly evolving world, it’s our responsibility to continue to innovate in order to provide the best possible experience for shoppers in all of our locations,” Metropolitan Market CEO Ron Megahan said in a statement.
Focal System says it has raised more than $40 million in venture capital funding and claims its technology has delivered a 50-fold return on investment.
“As AI and computer vision become more widely adopted in retail and grocery stores, early adopters like Metropolitan Market will see both the in-store experience for customers and the back-office experience for associates optimized and enhanced, revolutionizing the shopping experience and bringing them closer together. differentiates itself from other retailers in the industry,” Francois Chaubard, founder and CEO of Focal Systems, said in a statement.
Metropolitan Market is the latest retailer to take advantage of computer vision AI solutions.
Last September, Mississauga, Ontario-based Walmart Canada said it was deploying Focal Systems technology across its chain after a pilot at 70 stores. The retailer began testing the Focal Systems platform in 2020 and expanded it to more stores across the country in 2021.
Additionally, Piggly Wiggly Midwest announced last September that it was piloting the system at stores in Wisconsin and Illinois.