Lindon Gao
October 14, 2020
min read

Bringing the Caper Magic to Small-Format Stores

Updated :

Aug 17, 2020

We started Caper with an ambition to automate checkout and enrich the retail experience for every shopper. We took our first step earlier this year with the successful launch of Caper Cart - an AI-powered shopping cart - with one of the largest grocery chains in North America. We are taking our second step today, as we look to bring automated checkout to small-format stores, with the new release of our second product: Caper Counter. The Caper Counter is a self-checkout counter powered by computer vision to automatically identify items and allow for contactless and cashierless checkout. The Caper Counter has been launched in several stores with a top nationwide convenience chain. For the first time, small-format retailers can simply purchase a plug-and-play technology to enable a magical checkout experience for their shoppers. 

When retailers first approached us about building a cashierless solution for convenience and smaller footprint retail stores, our initial reaction was to retrofit the store with a complex network of cameras. However, upon further exploration with store operators, we found that a successful project meant: 1) seamless shopper experience; 2) easy to maintain for store operations; 3) an attractive return on investment. The complexity of installing cameras was only a small part of the problem. The bigger problems were: how to account for the reshuffling of items, the addition of new items requiring AI model retraining, the narrow aisle configurations that block a camera’s line of sight, and how to guarantee a 99%+ detection accuracy (a misidentification translates into loss), just to name a few. 

Our first product -- Caper Cart -- was the first to define how technology can achieve a scalable cashier-less rollout in large-format stores. The recent launch of Amazon Dash Cart was a silent nod to our long-held thesis: retrofitting stores is not scalable. It took months of customer validation before we finalized a solution that could fulfill all aspects of a retailer’s requirements. This time again, we chose to transform the mundane -- a countertop -- into something magical. The Caper Counter uses Computer Vision and Sensor Fusion technology to visually detect and identify items placed on the Counter and automatically adds the items to the total amount. Shoppers can tap their chip cards directly on the device or use Apple/Android Pay to check out quickly. 

The Caper Counter requires only a power cord and WiFi password to get the device up and running in a store. All items only need to be trained with our AI once, and it can scale infinitely across all stores under the Caper network. 

The technology is suitable for any retail store size and SKUs, but the hardware is purpose-built for basket sizes of fewer than 10 items. The Caper Counter brings practical & scalable technology innovation to retail stores to make the shopping experience seamless without breaking their infrastructure, store operations or wallets. 

With the new Caper Counter, we are excited to bring AI-powered automated checkout to convenience stores, book stores, cosmetic stores, cafeterias, and beyond. Our ambition is to interface with every shopper, everywhere - and we are one step closer to that goal. We look forward to working with retailers to facilitate a safer shopping environment in the midst of the pandemic and help scale autonomous checkout to all of their stores.

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