"Hoody" organic market opens in Hamburg entirely without checkouts

Autonomo start-up using AI for autonomous, fun shopping - international expansion plans
18 August 2022
Founders of Autonomo outside shop in Hamburg-Eppendorf

A new organic market named “Hoody” opened in Eppendorf Thursday (August 18, 2022) and entirely without checkouts. The name of Hamburg’s first autonomous supermarket is derived from the word “neighbourhood”, according to the retail start-up, Autonomo, behind the venture. Customers scan an app at the entrance to enter the shop. Artificial intelligence and cameras then enable contactless shopping. The shop will remain open until 10 p.m. during the test phase and will later open 24/7, all going well.

Autonomo relying on proprietary technology

"Our proprietary technology stays in the background, and highlights locally sourced, sustainable food and beverages and the shopping experience itself," said James Sutherland, CEO of Autonomo, at the launch. The four-strong founding team combines expertise in retail, food and autonomous technologies. Sutherland expressed pride that such a shop is now "becoming a reality for the first time in a suburb of Hamburg". The development of autonomous retail technologies is currently gaining momentum. Retailers are under pressure and have to compete in a difficult labour market. However, the pandemic has increased customers' willingness to use innovative technologies, including contactless technologies. Customers also want more sustainable concepts and convenience.

Goods in virtual shopping basket

Customers download and register on the Hoody app, scan it at the entrance and then shop as usual. A so-called community manager is on hand to answer any queries about the assortment or technology. Computer vision, a sub-area of artificial intelligence, and cameras make for a different kind of shopping spree. The technology can anonymously assign products to people when something is packed or put back. Shoppers simply leave on completion and receipts are then sent automatically and paperless. The technology is DSGVO-compliant and protects the privacy of customers, the founders said.

Autonomo to go international next year 

"We have created a new, innovative market that feels familiar at the same time," said Patrick Mueller-Sarmiento, Chair of Autonomo. The company's approach differs from that of its international competitors as it aims to simplify shopping for both customers and retailers and to revive local shopping in the suburbs. That will be done by developing supply concepts for rural areas, strengthening regional suppliers, creating jobs and offering new, enjoyable shopping experiences. The founders have also announced plans to open stores all over Germany in the coming months and to go international in 2023. Autonomo has already reached agreements with several trade partners to use the technology.

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Autonomo

Founded in 2021 and based in Hammerbrook, Autonomo now has a 30-strong workforce. The founders have already raised EUR 2.2 million in a pre-seed financing round and the company won the Harvard Alumni Entrepreneurs Accelerator award in June. Autonomo will also represent Harvard University at the Startup World Cup in Silicon Valley.