December 5, 2023

In 2007, Alan O’Herlihy, who had worked on large SAP installations and in the retail industry, set out to find a way to help retailers minimize “shrinkage,” the situation in which stores stock fewer items than they have on record. He decided on computer vision as a solution to the problem and founded a company, eternal lifeCommercialize technology.

Everseen — which uses computer vision to, among other things, try to prevent theft at self-checkout counters — announced today that it raised €65 million ($71.32 million) in Series A funding led by Crosspoint Capital Partners, Crosspoint Capital Partners is a previous investor startup. The new funding brings Ireland-based Everseen’s total funding to nearly $90 million, which O’Herlihy said will be used to scale the startup’s business through a “targeted” roadmap.

“We are facing tremendous demand for our technology from retailers grappling with the combination of lower customer spending and increased operating losses, including contractions,” O’Herlihy said. “The retail industry is also facing labor shortages and Challenges like rising labor costs make our technology even more valuable in solving those problems.”

In O’Herlihy’s view, shrinkage, in particular, will hit retailers’ bottom lines hard. In 2017, stores lost about 1.33% of their revenue due to downsizing, totaling about $47 billion, according to to the National Retail Federation.

Everseen uses a combination of ceiling-mounted cameras and computer vision software to — in theory — reduce point-of-sale theft in brick-and-mortar stores. According to O’Herlihy, Everseen’s algorithms can detect and track objects of interest (such as SKUs), analyze how they interact and identify “actions of interest” performed by shoppers and salespeople.

Beyond theft, Everseen claims to be able to “know” when items on shelves are nearly out of stock and “pinpoint processes that require immediate attention to help staff resolve issues, improve trends, and reduce variance.” The platform processes hundreds of millions of products a day Video, and tens of millions of customer interactions, can connect with a retailer’s existing tools, such as an order management system, to provide insight and near real-time analytics.

“All of these elements serve as inputs that allow our solution to ‘nudge’ customers to self-correct or direct store associates to engage and help customers with issues,” O’Herlihy explained. “Our goal is to stop and recover losses, enabling retailers to intervene to facilitate great customer interactions and create smooth processes, while improving the overall customer experience and positively impacting the bottom line.”

Everseen has not always been successful in this task. Employees of Wal-Mart, once a major customer of Everseen, Tell When wired in 2020, the system routinely mistook unintentional behavior for theft and failed to stop actual theft.

In response to the allegations, Walmart said it made “significant improvements” to its Everseen system, resulting in fewer overall alerts. But relations between the two companies soon soured. Everseen is suing Walmart, claiming the retailer stole the Irish company’s technology and then made its own products similar to Everseen’s. (Everseen and Walmart settled in December 2021.)

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Anomaly technology monitoring by Everseen.

It is difficult to measure the accuracy of any system without access to its backend.but history Told us that computer vision techniques—especially those designed for anti-shoplifting purposes—are susceptible to bias and other flaws.

Consider an algorithm that is trained to spot “suspicious” activity from shoppers. If the data set used to train it is unbalanced—say, contains footage of a large number of black shoppers stealing—it may flag excessive shoppers more often than others.

In addition, some AI-driven anti-theft solutions are explicitly designed to detect shoplifting gait — limb movement patterns — as well as other physical characteristics. That’s a potentially problematic approach, given that disabled shoppers and others have gaits that look suspicious to algorithms trained on videos of able-bodied shoppers.

But assuming Everseen is largely unbiased, there’s still an elephant in the room for every camera-based tracking system: privacy. In an email exchange, Crosspoint’s Greg Clark mentioned the potential for using Everseen’s technology to capture purchase intent and behavior for “marketing to specific demographics,” a touchy prospect.

I asked O’Herlihy about how it handles customer data, including any footage it records of shoppers and store associates. He said Everseen respected customers in its data retention policies and was – for what it’s worth – “fully compliant” with the GDPR.

Whether shoppers or colleagues absolutely trust Everseen, for that matter, is another question. But potentially thorny ethical issues don’t appear to be stopping customers from signing up for the startup’s services.

O’Herlihy claims that Everseen’s customers represent more than half of the world’s top 15 retailers, deployed in more than 6,000 retail stores and more than 80,000 checkout lines.

“The adoption of this transformational technology has accelerated during the pandemic, as retailers look for different ways to sell and shoppers look for different ways to buy,” O’Herlihy said. “In terms of technology spending, we are seeing a reallocation of budgets as the challenges retailers face are changing and addressing shrinkage is seen as a top priority for the industry… Everseen is perfectly aligned with current trends. “

In a general sense, retailers are indeed embracing — or at least showing interest in — artificial intelligence. A recent The KPMG survey found that 90 percent of retail business leaders believe their workforce is ready and skilled to adopt AI, while 53 percent believe the pandemic has accelerated their company’s adoption.

Future, Everseen – No doubt pressure from competitors such as AI Guardian and VaakEye — plans to expand its technology into industries beyond retail, such as supply chain and manufacturing. The start-up currently employs around 1,000 staff at its headquarters in Cork and centers in the US, Barcelona, ​​India and Australia.

“Starting with retail, Everseen can develop the foundation and library for computer vision AI use cases relevant to other adjacent industries,” O’Herlihy said. “Computer vision solutions are currently very siled and designed to solve specific problems. We see increased demand for our platform as customers look to solve other problems across the retail store space.”