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San Jose State’s AI-enabled Ginger Market specializes in Pan-Asian offerings

Silicon Valley’s first AI-powered autonomous retail experience serves academic community where a large percentage of students are of Asian heritage.

By adopting the latest innovations in technology, Ginger Market at San Jose State University (SJSU) has been transformed into what it says is Silicon Valley’s first AI-powered autonomous retail experience offering students quality food with maximum convenience and speed. The store leverages computer vision technology secured from vendor Standard AI by campus dining services provider Chartwells Higher Ed and mounted in strategic locations throughout the market to accurately identify the items shoppers select and automatically record the purchase on the SJSU Boost app. As a result, shoppers can skip the check-out line and get an accurate receipt on their app minutes after purchase.

In addition to its tech-enabled convenience, Ginger Market focuses on serving the specific needs of the SJSU community, where over 34% of the total enrollment headcount was students of Asian ethnicity as of Fall 2020 and where Asians represent 37% of the wider San Jose population. Hence, the store has strategically curated a wide selection of more than 400 SKUs that include a large selection of Pan Asian food and beverage offerings like fresh sushi, ramen, poke bowls and tea.

The first seven of the top selling SKUs are freshly prepared items like sushi salads, rolls and samplers, and sushi has made up 17% of total item counts since launch. Following that are popular Asian items like Pocky and ramen at the 11th and 12th spots on the top selling SKU list. The result is a 22.8% increase in check average, a 10% increase in market trips and a 6% increase in items bought per trip from launch to two weeks after launch, indicating more people are coming into the market and purchasing more per visit. Also of note is that the SJSU Boost app, which was already in use across campus before Ginger Market’s debut, has garnered 500 users since, with the majority being freshman and sophomores.

Ginger Market is located in a 1,300-sq.ft. space within one of the busiest parts of the SJSU campus in downtown Jan Jose and was retrofitted without ceasing operations from a previous incarnation that was operating via self-checkout. Since the autonomous checkout deployment on Feb. 14, 2022, the store has seen a decrease in loss with consumer purchases easier to control with the single market entrance and exit.

Its location allows the market to serve not only the university but also San Jose community members and downtown workers from small businesses to big tech as it is open to all.

Because Standard AI technology uses AI-powered computer vision and the cloud without the need of facial recognition software, shoppers don’t have to worry about their face being used for data collection, while the elimination of the need to have employees to check-out lets them focus on customer service, store management duties and other tasks.

Overall, the data provided from SJSU since deploying autonomous checkout using Standard AI technology has proven to be a success. In addition to positive student feedback, there has been an over 90% adoption rate, signaling students are excited to embrace new tech and more time into their lives.

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