US-based retailer-owned cooperative Wakefern Food has extended its partnership with retail automation solutions provider Focal Systems.

The deal will see Wakefern Food will expand the pilot programme and deploy Focal’s shelf camera-based computer vision systems to 50 stores. The pilot was initially launched in four stores.

The computer vision system takes pictures of store shelves to assess and notify the retailer about out of stock products.

This operation eliminates the need to manually scan for out-of-stock items, enabling store associates to focus more on customers.

Wakefern Food CIO Cheryl Williams said: “Focal Systems’ out-of-stock detection through computer vision and artificial intelligence has enabled us to automatically identify shelf gaps.

“Each detection is sent directly to Wakefern’s proprietary mobile application, which prioritizes out-of-stocks by department, aisle, and in-stock availability.

“Our stores have seen time savings and operational improvements by incorporating the new information into their daily tasks. This early success has encouraged our members to opt into a 50-store pilot expansion this autumn.”

The solution also generates data on an hourly basis to allow the retailer to optimise inventory and retail operations in order to enhance customer experience.

The retail automation firm has deployed its system at more than ten retailers globally.

Focal Systems CEO Francois Chaubard said: “Customer expectations are high and retailers want to deliver on those expectations. Focal Systems provides the real-time data retailers need to run their stores efficiently.

“The system delivers insight into what’s happening throughout the store and allows for better decision making by delivering alerts on out-of-stocks to store associates, merchandising teams and supply chain systems.

“We are thrilled to expand our partnership with Wakefern and continue driving value for them and their customers.”

Wakefern Food currently has 50 members that independently own and operate 353 supermarkets under various brands, including ShopRite, The Fresh Grocer, Price Rite Marketplace and Dearborn Market.

The stores are located in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Virginia.