“Next generation of brick and mortar”: Sydney AI startup Tiliter Tech partners with Woolworths to test self-checkout app

Tiliter Tech Woollies

Tiliter Tech co-founders Marcel Herz, Christopher Sampson, Martin Karafilis (left to right). Source: supplied.

Sydney startup Tiliter Tech is testing out its next-generation self-checkout technology in partnership with supermarket giant Woolworths.

The tech is designed to ease checkout congestion by building on an existing app that both scans items and allows customers to pay with their smartphones.

The current app is able to scan packaged items, but struggles to identify loose produce.

Tiliter Tech provides AI-fitted scales and cameras attached to the top of checkout machines, enabling the tech to distinguish between different products and produce, and even different fruit and vegetable varieties (think a Pink Lady and a Jazz apple).

The updated smartphone-based system was rolled out in four Woolworths stores in Sydney’s CBD in January.

Co-founder Martin Karafilis tells SmartCompany nabbing such a large deal is a huge win for Tiliter Tech, which has been expanding across Europe and the US in the last few years and was keen to do something Down Under.

The deal with Woolworths “means a lot to us, being an Aussie startup and all,” Karafilis says.

According to the co-founder, the partnership has been in the works for about six months, but Woolworths has stayed in conversation with the startup for years.

“Woolies are extra agile,” he says. “But they’re keen to implement new tech and stay relevant.”

Karafilis anticipates the smartphone app will take supermarket retail one step closer to “the point of autonomous checkout”, which he predicts will be the norm in the next decade.

During that time, he believes progress in retail AI will come down to legislation and customer adoption to “fuel that next generation of brick and mortar”.

“It’s not something that happens overnight,” Karafilis says.

“We can’t transform retail with the snap of our fingers.”

This article was updated on February 25, 2020, to clarify the origins of the app and amend a quote.

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