McGill Launches Laboratory Store

McGill University has partnered with Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc., a Canadian multinational operator of convenience stores, to launch a retail innovation lab at the Bensadoun School of Retail Management – a live testing ground for innovative and frictionless technologies that will address the retail sector's challenges of the future. The lab is one of North America's first live, open laboratory stores. Located on McGill University's downtown Montreal, QC, campus. Inside the lab, a Couche-Tard Connecté section is specially designed with frictionless technologies to allow autonomous and contactless checkout. Using an app, customers can unlock the door to walk into the Connecté section, pick up items and leave. The items selected will be recognized in real-time and payment will be processed automatically in the app. A first in Canada's convenience store sector, the frictionless store will allow Couche-Tard store team members to spend more time on service, speed up in-store visits, and make its customers' lives a little easier. A frictionless option is also becoming increasingly desired by retail customers during the pandemic. Governed by a joint steering committee, preliminary research themes will involve helping customers make healthier, more sustainable choices, and finding the right balance between personalization and privacy in the shopping experience. Researchers will use state-of-the-art artificial intelligence methods, while ensuring stringent data privacy and confidentiality protocols, to improve demand forecasting and customer recommendations, as well as virtual reality to make it easier for customers to find what they are looking for. In addition to enabling ground-breaking research, the lab will allow McGill students to deepen their knowledge through on-site experiential learning in an innovative commercial environment.