Giant Eagle Charts the Future of Grocery Shopping — Yes, it’s Cashless

December 8, 2021

Regional grocery powerhouse Giant Eagle is making the down payment on a cashless future for its customers. Recent innovations include cashier-free transactions at select locations and deals with PayPal and Venmo enabling customers to pay for their goods via their mobile devices. 

Since its founding in 1931, Giant Eagle has grown into a prominent regional food, fuel and pharmacy retailer with more than 470 stores across western Pennsylvania, north central Ohio, northern West Virginia, Maryland and Indiana. Based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the chain has annual sales of $9.7 billion. 

President and CEO Laura Karet is leading the charge to transform shopping with the latest digital tools, including a project to expand the product line in its online grocery store. Here’s a quick look at what Karet and her leadership team have been up to in 2021.  

No Cashier Required in 5 Pittsburgh-Area Stores

In September 2021, Giant Eagle announced it would use no-checkout-required technology in four of its GetGo Café+Market convenience/fuel stores in the Pittsburgh metro area. The tech startup Grabandgo supplies the technology for the venture, which began with a soft launch at one GetGo store in 2020. 

Grabandgo’s technology mounts small cameras in rails on the store’s ceiling. Machine learning algorithms scan video of shoppers in real-time, tracking every item they pick up and keeping a real-time tab of their purchases. When they leave the store, customers scan a code with an app to close the transaction. 

“We remain drawn to Grabango because of their commitment to delivering an optimized, safe, and easy experience for our loyal Giant Eagle and GetGo shoppers,” said Rug Phatak, senior director of marketing for GetGo. Grabandgo is designed to retrofit brick-and-mortar stores for cashierless transactions, giving legacy retailers a chance to show you don’t have to be Amazon to reinvent grocery shopping. 

First Chain to Add PayPal and Venmo 

Giant Eagle customers who prize the convenience of PayPal on their PCs and Venmo on their smartphones can use these apps to buy their groceries.  

“We are thrilled to be the first supermarket and convenience chain in the country to accept PayPal and Venmo in our stores,” said Graham Watkins, executive vice president of retail innovation and business development at Giant Eagle.

Giant Eagle partnered with the tech startup Blackhawk Network to add PayPal and Venmo, which customers can use at checkout to wrap up their transaction in the time it takes to scan QR codes. The service is available in all of the chain’s grocery and convenience store locations. 

Vaccination Drive Shows It’s Not All About the Groceries 

Pharmacists from Giant Eagle joined forces with the Pittsburgh Steelers football team to deliver essential protection from COVID-19. Using the Heinz Field stadium, pharmacists and volunteers vaccinated more than 55,000 people.   

“Getting an amazing community service like this done doesn’t happen without the collective effort of literally hundreds, if not thousands, of people who put their heart and soul and energy and sweat, and sometimes tears, into pulling off this major logistics event,” said Karet, the Giant Eagle CEO. “They took time off their own personal schedules. They took time away from their own families to do good for the community. There is nothing that gives me more satisfaction than being able to say thank you to the people that are willing to do that.”

Steelers fans had a chance to get vaccinated on the team’s home field. “We had a great reaction,” said Steelers President Art Rooney II. “A lot of Steelers fans were happy to come in here and see a little bit of the stadium while they got their vaccine, so it worked out great from that standpoint.”

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