Focal Systems

Focal Systems

Focal Systems


Out of Stock Detection

Retailers have access to a myriad of data for items sold from their POS systems. However, that’s only one piece to increasing basket size. The other is maintaining stocked shelves, and that’s where Focal comes in. 

Why are we tackling this problem?

"Out-of-stocks" account for over $129 billion in lost retail sales in North America (~4% of revenue), or $1.1 trillion globally. A retail industry analysis commissioned by OrderDynamics and run by IHL showed that a majority of the issues driving out-of-stocks were bad processes, people problems, and data/systems issues.

Timely Alerts of on-shelf availability

Between a customer with a Focal device passing by an out-of-stock and a store associate receiving a notification is a matter of seconds with the Focal out-of-stock detection capabilities. Based on the retailer’s needs and specific processes, we can customize the way alerts are delivered; be it in a batch every hour, as soon as they happen, or upon a set of conditions. 

Historical Bird’s Eye View

Data doesn’t mean anything if you don’t know how to interpret it. We strive to help you visualize key out-of-stock data from any period in a way that drives future decisions. For example, understanding on an aggregate level which geographical locations in the store are the biggest problem areas, or which low-velocity items are constantly out of stock that could be resulting in profit loss. 

Indoor Location. Right Time, Right Place. 

Technologies like iBeacon and GPS that are currently widely used have a large margin of error. They can throw you off up to 50 feet. That might be fine when you’re driving, but if you are trying to find a specific brand of Marinara, that won’t do. Focal provides precise indoor location, with only up to 1 foot of error, to provide benefits for both retailer and shopper. 

Why are we tackling this problem?

Focal’s applications of our indoor location algorithms can help retailers increase basket while also improving the customer experience. By knowing where the customer is in the store, retailers have the ability to provide relevant savings opportunities, related product suggestions, and additional product information. This is a level of reach that typically is not available. 

In-Store Location Based Advertising

Imagine being able to tell your shoppers about offers just as they are about to pass it in the aisle! That’s what the Focal tablet is able to do. Retailers paid up to $5.84 Billion in 2014 for 1 printed circular run. That’s a lot of funds and a lot of trees. Many retailers have moved toward a digital circular solution in light of these costs in the form of an app or email newsletter. While these solutions may work for the vigilant coupon-er, most people will not take advantage of sales that aren’t on display on the shelves. Through a cart-mounted device, Focal is providing a next level digital circular solution. With precise indoor location, Focal drives sales through location-based “just-in-time” advertising. 

Store Navigation

We want to help shoppers have the best experience in brick and mortar stores and part of that means not having to chase down store associates for item locations. From department locations to the most obscure items, our technology can point you to the exact shelf in the store. And in case the store doesn’t carry your item, Focal can save you a lap around the store. 

Understanding user behavior in the store

As a store manager you understand the general demographic and behavior of your stores’ shoppers. However you may not understand the nuances of their decision while in the store. By aggregating or isolating anonymized shopper trip data, we enable retailers are able to glean insight on dwell time, trip path, and trip length. 

Additionally, with the ability to integrate with existing store POS systems, Focal can analyze what shoppers may have debated buying, but didn’t in the end. This allows retailers to change their layout and merchandising to maximize basket size and customer experience. 

Shelf Analytics.

As a vendor, having eyes on your products in all the stores is quite the feat. High level statistics don’t allow you to take action on the spot to fix day-to-day restocking problems. Through our flexible hardware options, Focal can provide a snapshot of a brand’s shelf status at any time. 

Why are we tackling this problem?

The brick and mortar retail industry has been trying to streamline operations and drive efficiency for decades. Almost all retailers today use "Perpetual Inventory" to track what has been ordered versus sold, to compute the inventory on-hand. However, poor controls and inaccurate tracking results in significant errors associated with Perpetual Inventory. As a result, large retailers (even those with the most sophisticated softwares in place) often resort to having to do periodic manual interventions - physically scanning the shelf gaps, or even physically counting the number of items in the store! Retailers are experimenting with in-store robots or sensors mounted on shelves. These solutions are expensive, may only provide once or twice-a-day updates.

Focal “Real-O-Gram” 

Planograms are hard to read, but even harder to accurately follow. As carts with Focal devices constantly circle the store, we are able to create a Focal Real-o-gram to cross reference with the retailer’s planogram to ensure compliance at any given time. 

We're your eyes and ears

For brands that self-stock in retail locations, the labor cost of hiring people to drive to each location and note shelf status is astronomical and an inefficient process. With Focal’s shelf cameras positioned precisely where your products are, we can take schedule snapshots of the shelf status and deliver them all to on a dashboard. 

Autocheckout. Just Throw It In The Cart. 

Cashiers were created to exchange exact amounts of physical cash between the store and the customer. As credit cards became people’s go-to and self-checkout kiosks became more prominent, the concept of a cashier can conceivably be automated. The hard part is automating theft protection. 

Why are we tackling this problem?

15 minutes to wait in a checkout line is far too long - for both customers and retailers. Every dollar saved is one that can be passed down the supply chain. Walmart has said that it spends $12 million [callout] on every second of cashier labor at their checkout stands. Theft, from both customers and employees, causes approximately $60 Billion of shrinkage in the United States alone. Focal aims to drastically minimize this number with our auto checkout solution. A time-saver for customers, and money-saver for retailers. 

Accurate, Real Time Theft Detection 

Theft comes in all shapes and sizes. Theft results from the habit-formed thieves, the unintentional unscanned item, and the “honest” shopper who occasionally slips in an extra candy bar because self checkout makes it easy to do so. Focal ensures we cover all bases without angering any shopper by maximizing the powers of Deep Learning while avoiding the pitfalls of a purely automated approach. 

We leverage the charisma and industry experience of store associates through a human-computer partnered solution. Building upon the commonly used auditor-at-the-door spot checking process, Focal provides our auditors with items flagged for their attention so they know what to watch out for on a per basket basis. 

A Solution for Any and All Shoppers

In order to have a solution that any shopper has the option of using, we envision creating a suite of products to meet any shopper’s needs. This means a basket solution, a cart solution, and a stationary kiosk solution. Current iPhone/Android checkout app solutions and handheld device solutions have an ergonomic issue. 

Shoppers have two hands to juggle the phone/handheld, the basket/cart, and the product they are scanning. Powered by our Deep Learning algorithms, all our checkout products strive to minimize customer involvement, where both the baskets and carts will allow customers to “just-throw-it-in-the-cart”. 

Computer Vision Consulting. 

Why are we offering consulting?

At Focal we take a Deep Learning first approach to all our problems. We see the potential impact to be made in the retail industry, but we are fascinated by all the other problems and industries that Deep Learning can be applied to and are excited to help push the field forward. Let us know what you're working on!


Focal Systems is helping retailers tackle their biggest challenges through deep learning and computer vision.

About the Company

OUR MISSION: To Automate Brick and Mortar Retail.

Retailers are desperately trying to catch up to the seamless experience of online but they are falling short. As labor costs increase, retailers are asking employees to do more with less, resulting in a frustrating shopping experience and a mass exodus of shoppers to online retailers because of convenience and lower cost. 

Enter Deep Learning Computer Vision! Imagine a store where you can walk in, grab a cart, ask it questions if you need help, throw items into it, and then walk out when you are ready. No checkout line. No hunting down store associates. No out-of-stocks. This is not a fantasy; this is the reality Focal Systems is building to fully automate B&M Retail. Focal Systems is delivering an indispensable competitive advantage for B&M Retail to beat their online counterparts. 

OUR STORY: Solving Multi-Billion Dollar Problems in Brick and Mortar Retail.

Founded in 2015, we set out to build Computer Vision applications for Retail and CPGs to solve some of their biggest, oldest multi-billion dollar problems. We graduated Y Combinator’s Winter 2016 batch and have since grown considerably and assembled an exceptional roster of employees, investors, advisors and partners. 

Our team consists of Stanford PhDs and Masters students with backgrounds from Apple, Google, and Facebook, specializing in state-of-the-art machine learning and computer vision – the same technology used by Amazon Go, Google’s self-driving cars, and other applications.

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