Aussie Retail Tech Startup Tiliter Raises US$7.5M for Expansion Goals

Tiliter is a retail tech startup that automates the supermarket checkout process. The company is looking to expand further into Europe and U.S. markets with their latest fundraise.

Australia-based retail AI startup Tiliter has raised fresh financing of US$7.5 million in an undisclosed round, the company announced in a statement yesterday.

Investec Emerging Companies (IEC) led the round through its IEC Australia Fund I, the statement said. Participating investors include angel tech investors syndicate Eleanor Venture and Cornell University, the statement added.

Tiliter will use the funding towards accelerating the company’s expansion efforts across Europe and the U.S., with more retail supermarket partners taking up its product recognition technology over the next few months.

Tiliter uses computer vision based on machine learning and data analysis algorithms to identify products such as fresh produce, without barcodes, or price stickers. The company was founded in 2017 by COO Martin Karafilis, CEO Marcel Herz, and CTO Chris Sampson.

Herz noted in the statement that scan-and-go adoption has increased by 300% in the U.S. since the pandemic started, and is expected to grow globally as well.

“As an industry, we’re just at the beginning of how AI combined with computer vision will shape the future for brick-and-mortar and online shopping,” Herz said.

“It was important that we partner with investors that understand the new dynamics in retail innovation and the massive opportunity arising from this change,” he added.

Tiliter’s computer vision hardware and software eases self-checkout at retail stores

Tiliter’s camera and software leverages AI to pre-select items with over 99% accuracy in less than a second, according to the statement. This eliminates the need for manual entry during checkouts, thus facilitating faster checkouts and minimizing human contact.

Tiliter’s technology, therefore, makes the retail experience more seamless for shoppers during self-checkout, the statement noted.

It added that the company’s technology also helps retailers reduce fraud, costs and waste, and provides the ability to make contactless transactions, all with limited integration and no infrastructural changes to the retailer’s IT.

“There has been an increased focus for Tiliter to create a plug-and-play solution for retailers and remove the operational friction of adopting cashier-less technology, particularly during the COVID pandemic,” Karafilis said in the statement.

“The end-to-end capability of Tiliter’s dedicated hardware and software is an example of how Tiliter’s recognition technology can be easily installed and used anywhere in the world at a lower cost than currently offered autonomous store solutions,” he added.

The company is currently focused on supermarkets, the statement noted. The company also sells its hardware and software solutions directly to manufacturers of checkout products and components, point of sale providers and distributors, it added.

While its hardware is a one-time buy, Tiliter’s software follows the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model and is available on a yearly subscription basis, according to the company’s website.

Some of the company’s early customers include Woolworths in Australia, Countdown in New Zealand, and several U.S-based retail chains including Westside Market, it added.

“We are excited to be working with the Tiliter team and believe this technology solves a very real need for both consumers and retailers in the Australian market and abroad,” Head of Investec’s Emerging Companies division Karen Chan said in the statement.

Retailers are automating to compete

Propelled by computer vision, automated checkout is seen as a disruptor to the retail industry and shopping experience on account of its ability to streamline the checkout process and collect customer data points.

No longer a nascent technology, it forms a critical part of the cashierless customer journey in new-age retail stores.

For instance, Amazon recently announced that it will be opening its first brick-and-mortar supermarket in Los Angeles to feature the Amazon Dash Cart. The Amazon Dash Cart lets shoppers with up to two filled grocery bags skip the cashier line through technology that charges their credit card based on items in the cart.

With the competition in retail dialing up, retailers are expected to increasingly take up AI and IoT technologies to edge them forward and help their margins. At least 10,000 stores are expected to integrate autonomous checkouts by 2024.

Header image by Fabio Bracht on Unsplash

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