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Retail tech startup strikes deal with Japanese supermarkets

Kiwi company Imagr has signed a deal to supply its ‘smart’ shopping trolleys to the Japanese supermarket operator H2O Retailing Corporation.

The Auckland-based startup says its trolleys enable a frictionless shopping experience like Amazon Go, but are cheaper and easier to implement than ceiling-based systems.

“[T]he setup cost is roughly equivalent to that of introducing self-checkout,” William Chomley, Imagr founder and CEO said in a statement.

The trolley, called a SmartCart, has in-built cameras to identify what customers put in or remove from their carts, and add or subtract them from the running total.

Customers can either sync their bank card to an app and have their total payment automatically deducted when they exit the store, or arrive at the checkout with the trolley recording a predetermined total, eliminating the need to unload, scan and reload individual items.

H2O Retailing expects to roll out the trolleys at its supermarkets throughout Japan in May 2020. Imagr is opening an office in Japan to assist with the rollout.

“To break into this market so early in our operation is a real coup and a sign of what we believe is to come. Beyond Japan the opportunity for SmartCart is immense,” Chomley said.

According to a statement, the startup is in discussions with retailers in New Zealand, the US and Europe.

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