- Frictionless checkout technology provider AiFi has raised $65 million in a Series B round of funding from a group of investors that includes European retailers Aldi South Group, Zabka Group and Rewe as well as the venture capital arms of Verizon, Qualcomm and HP, according to a Friday press release.
- The Silicon Valley startup plans to use the capital to build its technical staff as it looks to scale its relationships with retailers and install its computer-vision based equipment in stores more quickly.
- AiFi is jockeying for influence in the retail automation sector as retailers increasingly embrace technology that lets shoppers bypass traditional checkout counters.
AiFi is building its reservoir of capital and stepping up ties with retailers as it competes with other companies making strides in the frictionless checkout space — including Amazon, which has been rolling out its Just Walk Out technology to an increasing number of stores.
The startup, which has installed its technology at retail facilities operated by retailers including Aldi South, Carrefour, Compass and Zabka, has focused on deploying its equipment to grocery stores, sports venues and universities, and said its system can handle locations as large as 10,000 square feet.
AiFi's gear is installed in stores run by Carrefour in France and Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Zabka in Poland; and Compass Group in Ireland. In addition, AiFi said last year that it has put its technology into two Loop Neighborhood convenience stores in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Verizon noted in a blog post that it is interested in AiFi because it believes frictionless shopping technology can benefit from the 5G wireless technology the telecommunications company has rolled out.
The participation of Aldi South and Rewe in the investment round brings the total amount AiFi has raised to $80 million, and reflects increasing interest by grocery retailers playing a material role as cameras driven by artificial intelligence emerge to speed shoppers through stores.
In January, Aldi South opened a checkout-free store in London that uses AiFi's technology, while Rewe operates a location in Germany equipped with computer vision technology developed by Israel-based Trigo, and is an investor in that company in addition to having a stake in AiFi.
In October, Trigo said Aldi Nord had agreed to test its technology at a store in Utrecht, the Netherlands. U.K. supermarket chain Tesco, another Trigo investor, also operates a store using that company's technology.
Other companies in the frictionless checkout space include UST, Standard AI and Grabango. In February, Grabango said it arranged to install its computer vision-based system in stores run by convenience store chain Mapco.
Zippin, another cashierless checkout company, said in September that it had raised $30 million, pushing the amount it has brought in from investors to more than $45 million.