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Circle K launches frictionless checkout pilot with MasterCard



Alimentation Couche-Tard's Circle K is teaming up with Mastercard to pilot a rollout of timely frictionless checkout solutions designed for convenience stores and other retailers.

While frictionless retail experiences have been gaining momentum in recent years, with the COVID-19 pandemic, the retail section and its customers are speeding up the adaptation of technology solutions to reduce touchpoints and time spent in stores.

In October. Circle K's Shop Anywhere pilot will launch at-the-pump and in-store frictionless experiences for its consumers, enabling them to efficiently grab-and-go snacks and drinks at select locations in Canada and the United States.

Through robust inventory and participating shopper analytics Mastercard's platform is designed to improve and speed up the in-store experience by eliminating points of friction. In other words, no line ups, no waiting and the introduction of secure payments.

For instance, shoppers will be able to  grab-and-go at select Circle K locations and never have to engage in face-to-face interactions. In addition, consumers can receive personalized offers based on historical purchasing trends. On the foodservice side, these means shoppers can place an order without waiting in line for staff to take that order, enabling staff to focus on order fulfillment.

Shop Anywhere can also give shoppers access to stores outside of normal opening hours if selected by the retailer, in addition to unique and exclusive merchandise.(Dunkin' and White Castle in the U.S. are also piloting the platform).

According to Mastercard’s Recovery Insights: Shift to Digital report, in-person shopping remains a draw, though consumers are seeking offerings that bridge the physical and digital to streamline the overall experience. In August, Mastercard unveiled its new suite of frictionless solutions for retailers to reimagine their physical shopping experience.

"As retailers and consumers navigate through one of the most disruptive periods in modern history, it's clear that traditional business operations will need to evolve quickly," Stephane Wyper, senior vice president, retail innovation, Mastercard, said in a release. "We're committed to supporting our retail partners as they look to meet the unforeseen challenges posed by this new normal and provide their customers with a more digitally enabled, touchless and secure retail experience."

The Shop Anywhere platform is supported by AI and computer vision technology partner Accel Robotics.

"We are thrilled to partner with Mastercard to help retailers deliver a new world of convenience," said Accel Robotics CEO Brandon Maseda. "Through the Shop Anywhere platform, we are helping shorten the distance between shoppers and satisfaction."

Quebec-based Alimentation Couche-Tard, which has a network of 14,500 stores, including 9,414 stores in North America; 2,710 stores in Europe, including Scandinavia, Baltics, Poland, Russia and Ireland; and licensing agreements for approximately 2,350 stores operated under the Circle K banner in 15 other countries and territories.

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