Circle K in Hong Kong tries out AI-powered checkout solution. Source: Shutterstock

Circle K in Hong Kong tries out AI-powered checkout solution. Source: Shutterstock

HK’s Circle K stores get AI-powered accelerated checkout solution

CIRCLE K stores are popular in some parts of Asia such as Hong Kong and Malaysia.

Their customers tend to urban commuters rushing from one place to another or drivers looking for supplies at gas stations.

Given the type of buyers the store attracts, (checkout) time is of the essence for regular customers. In a bid to make things more convenient, the company has just announced a new partnership with in Hong Kong through local franchise owner Fung Retailing Group.

The solution is an AI-powered accelerated checkout facility that is designed to make the checkout experience as easy and hassle-free as possible.

Customers can complete the checkout process using the AI-powered checkout solution in just four seconds in three simple steps:

  1. Place products on the smart checkout counter
  2. Press the A.I.Recognition (A.I.R.) button on the cashier screen to scan the products
  3. Complete payment with an Octopus card.

The advanced AI algorithm behind the solution enables the checkout counter to recognize up to five products within one second with an accuracy rate of over 97 percent, reducing the overall in-store checkout time by 30 percent.

“AI will continue to play a critical role in transforming the retail landscape. Retailers who are able to capitalize on this trend, will have a competitive edge among their peers,” said Vice President of and Head of JD’s AI Platform and Research Bowen Zhou.

“Leveraging Fung Retailing’s offline retail expertise and’s leading retail technology, this pilot project represents a critical first step in collectively realizing our vision for smarter and more convenient retail.”

Can technology make retail great again?

To be very honest, there’s something special about going to a mall and buying something. Many psychologists and experts believe retail-therapy is a very real thing — and not without any evidence.

A recent Nielsen study, for example, found that although customers are now buying premium products online, 60 percent still prefer to purchase premium products from physical stores.

Simply put, the magic of browsing products and touching and feeling the merchandise before making a purchase isn’t easy to replace with the convenience that an online shopping platform provides.

This is why retailers that get good with technology seem to have a fighting chance when it comes to getting the attention of shoppers and enticing them to walk into real-world brick and mortar stores.

The Fung Retail Group’s latest attempt using AI in its Circle K stores is a great example for retailers of all sizes across the region.

The company might only be trialing it at two of its stores currently, but there seems to be plenty of evidence that they won’t stop there.

Those in the know, for example, believe that the Fung Retailing Group is working with on another project involving facial recognition-enabled smart displays at two of its fashion retail brands in Shanghai.

The facial-recognition experiment is believed to help enhance the consumer experience by providing better insights on product preferences and is expected to help improve the quality of personalized product recommendations for customers.

Last year, Japanese beauty brand SK-II tried facial recognition technology too, in an experiment in Singapore. The feedback from customers was overwhelmingly positive — telling the brand that making more conscious efforts in that direction is going to be good for business.

Retailers are clearly trying to explore how technology can help them better appeal to customers.

Given how much customers love what is being offered and the excitement it creates, technology might just be able to reinvigorate the retail industry and bring back the magic that the industry seems to have lost in recent times.