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Two stories today about companies opening checkout-free stores …

•  NACS Daily reports that Denver-based c-store chain Choice Market and St. Louis-based Health Hospitality Partners (HHP) are partnering to open an autonomous market - using "artificial intelligence and cameras to check out customers without the need for a cashier" - on the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora.

The store, called Mini-Mart, "was specifically designed for non-traditional retail spaces such as hospitals, airports and campuses and is driven by the expertise of both partners in food, tech and hospitality, the companies said. HHP and Choice have plans to expand the concept nationwide."

“We couldn’t be more excited to announce this partnership with HHP and CU Anschutz,” Mike Fogarty, founder and CEO of Choice, tells NACS Daily. “At Choice, we firmly believe that food is medicine, and this innovative format will provide doctors, nurses, students, patients and families with 24/7 access to high-quality and nutritious options. This is truly a game-changer in the health care hospitality sector.”

•  Grocery Gazette reports that "Aldi has joined the likes of Amazon Fresh and Tesco GetGo by opening its first checkout-free store in London today.

"Based in Greenwich, the first ever Aldi Shop&Go concept store … allows customers to complete their shop without scanning a single product, or even having to go through a checkout.

"Aldi Shop&Go will allow shoppers to simply collect their items and leave. Carefully positioned cameras will detect which products customers have picked up, and once a customer leaves the store they will automatically be charged for their shopping via their selected payment method and a receipt will appear in the app."

KC's View:

I think we're going to see a lot of these announcements in coming months as a wide variety of retailers, working with technology purveyors such as Standard Cognition, Trigo and Zippin, look to figure out the operational and economic issues that these innovations create, while simultaneously calculating the impact on labor and the appeal to customers.

I continue to believe that at some point, checkout-eliminating technologies will be as important as scanning.