Colruyt tests automatic recognition with AI

Automatic product recognition identifies 120 types of fruit and veg at the till

Colruyt is the first Belgian supermarket to test automatic product  recognition. In a store in Kortrijk fruits and vegetables are automatically recognised at the till with the aid of artificial intelligence.

In collaboration with the company Robovision a smart camera was developed and placed about a set of scales that immediately identifies the product. With this test Colruyt is taking a new step in digital progress. Over the course of three months, employees and customers at the Colruyt store in Kortijk will discover how this technology can cut down time and improve efficiency at the till.

How does it work?
Colruyt is the first Belgian supermarket to test the automatic product recognition of fruits and vegetables. "Together with our customers in Kortrijk we will experience over the coming three months how this new technology will ensure a more efficient checkout process," says Rudi Dewulf, regional sales director of Colruyt.

When customers place a piece of fruit or a vegetable on the scale, the camera takes a picture. Based on this image, the system can automatically recognise what product is on the scale. After this, customers can confirm this is the correct product using a tablet.

Software recognises all 120 types of fruits and vegetables
In collaboration with the AI company Robovision from Gent a unique 'deep learning' model was developed that can recognise the 120 types of fruits and vegetables that Colruyt stocks. Thanks to artificial intelligence the product recognition is increasingly accurate as more photos are added.

The first tests show that in 97% of the cases the correct product is shown on the tablet. "We tailored the software to Colruyt," says Jonathan Berte, CEO of Robovision. "It's great to see that our expertise in AI found its way to the shop. This is a unique collaboration with an innovative retailer. The project also fits perfectly within our mission: democratising AI."

Countless benefits
Colruyt is testing automatic product recognition to see whether it means a more efficient checkout process. A conscious choice was made for fruits and vegetables because this assortment doesn't have a bar code. Until now cashiers have had to type in a code for all fruits and vegetables into the till with automatic product recognition this will no longer be necessary.

Secondly, the cashier can scan the other products whilst the customer weighs their fresh produce with the aid of the camera. Finally, it could also be that less fruit and vegetables need to be packaged in the future. "We currently package some fruits and vegetables to avoid confusion between products. Due to the automatic recognition, this problem may no longer exist in the future," says Rudi Dewulf.

They also specifically chose Colruyt Kortrijk as the store to test it in, as it is one of the pilot stores that offers only reusable bags for fruit and vegetables. The software is able to automatically deduct the weight of the bag from the fruit and vegetables.

The first test shows that customers responded enthusiastically and like to work with this new technology because it gives them a more active role in the checkout process. Colruyt has opted to keep the option of having the cashier weigh the produce in the classic manner during the test in Kortrijk. Customers can always choose between the two systems.

Colruyt is continually investing in new digital developments that make shopping more efficient. Colruyt is also introducing electronic price labels this year, organised a test with speech technology in February and is continually expanding its MyColruyt app. "We believe product recognition could be the successor of the bar code, which was hugely innovative 30 years ago."

The expansion of product recognition to other products isn't yet on the cards. "We are interested in the results of the test to see what this innovative technology could mean in the future," concludes Rudi Dewulf.

For more information:

Silja Decock
Tel: +32 (0)2 363 55 45
Mob: +32 (0)473 92 45 10 

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