AiFi Secures Funding as Computer Vision in Retail Heats Up
by Adam Pease
This week, Santa Clara-based AiFi was able to raise $65M in its Series B funding round. AiFi offers tools to implement contactless retail experiences using computer vision. With its new funding, AiFi competes in a market for computer vision and retail that is hotter than ever. This blog discusses the funding news and what it suggests about the market more generally.
Who Is AiFi?
AiFi provides cameras to retailers that want to use computer vision to enable a cashier-less checkout experience for their shoppers. Equipped with AiFi, stores can enable shoppers to purchase items and check out without ever interacting with a human cashier or swiping their credit card. One of the provider’s selling points is that it is ‘camera-only,’ which means that it requires no adjustments to the weighing or organization of shelves to function properly. We expect that providers that can remove as many of such scaling obstacles as possible will be rewarded in the market.
One notable backer of AiFi’s funding was supermarket chain Aldi South, which suggests that major retailers cannot afford to stay out of the computer vision market as stores around the world are being transformed.
But the reasons AiFi and companies like it are getting attention now has to do with more than just the shopping experience. The shift to intelligent shopping is, above all, about data. With higher volumes of more precise data about where and when customers shop in stores, retailers can curate the shopping experience better to increase sales. While it has emerged to meet one need, the data AiFi gathers in the process can be put to use to transform shopping in other ways as well.
Computer Vision and Retail: Competition Heats Up
Amazon’s Just Walk Out system, which enables a cashier-less checkout experience, has already been demonstrated at several stores around the country and represents an early sign that many large providers will be moving into the retail space when it comes to computer vision. Last year, Aragon reported on the emerging rivalry between Amazon and Trigo, another successful cashier-less checkout provider.
Serious investment in the cashier-less checkout and broader computer vision space has been turning heads. For store owners and brands, it is a sign that customers may soon expect a more modern, intelligent, and seamless checkout experience. For investors, it suggests that we are only at the beginning of computer vision’s growth in retail.
Computer vision is rapidly becoming a force to be reckoned with in retail. As more providers compete to pilot test their offerings in stores around the world, consumers will learn to expect the benefits of a contactless shopping experience, which often requires much less waiting in line. In turn, the market will expand to offer more solutions like these.