The debut of Amazon’s checkout-less convenience store Amazon Go is one of the biggest evolutions in transactional commerce since Ohio saloonkeeper James Ritty patented the cash register in 1879. That’s because Amazon’s so-called “just walk out” technology uses computer vision, sensor fusion and deep learning that allows shoppers to enter with an app, grab items off the shelves and leave without waiting in line to pay a cashier manning Ritty’s 140-year-old invention.
Microsoft is reportedly developing similar technology that has piqued Walmart’s interest, and Chinese ecommerce firm JD.com has opened 20 of what it says will be hundreds of “unmanned convenience stores” called X-Marts. Meanwhile, reports say Amazon Go is expanding beyond Seattle to San Francisco and Chicago.
This new technology is paving the way for retailers to make shopping easier for consumers and inventory management better for retailers. In a statement, JD.com said cameras can recognize customer movement and generate heat maps so retailers can monitor traffic flow, product selection and customer preferences.
“The advantage is convenience to the customer, especially if loyalty, rewards and payment are embedded,” said Joanne Joliet, research director at Gartner. “For the retailer, they can redeploy the cashiers to more value-added, customer-facing tasks, [improve] inventory management and certainly [tap into] the plethora of data on customer behavior, movement and preferences that is an output.”
A rep for computer vision startup Trigo Vision, which recently closed $7 million in seed funding for its automated retail platform, agreed the technology frees up employees to play more interactive roles. She also noted retailers can prevent theft as the platform tracks everything in the store and they can also optimize store real estate with the elimination of checkouts and lines.
The first time shoppers enter a store with Sprucebot, customers’ devices are associated with their user profiles. When these devices are connected to…