Are smart carts a smarter way to ‘Just Walk Out’?
A new startup is aiming to fix some of the pain points of Just Walk Out checkout technology by thinking smaller. A company called Veeve has built a solution that lets shoppers pay without checking out, but rather than using ceiling-mounted cameras like Amazon Go, it’s building all the necessary technology into shopping carts.
Veeve, a project of former Amazon and Google employees, brings the product recognition technology at work in the full Amazon Go store to the level of a shopping cart, reports GeekWire. A shopper grabs a Veeve cart upon entering the store and scans a QR code to be recognized by the system. An on-cart screen provides guidance as users place products into the cart and cameras automatically recognize items and add them to the bill. The screen also provides product suggestions based on items added to the physical cart and allows for online purchase of products not found in-store. For produce, the cart is capable of weighing products placed in the cart. There is also a barcode reader in case the machine vision fails.
Veeve’s smart cart addresses a few of the concerns about existing Just Walk Out stores. Since the technology works at the cart level, it can scale to larger stores, whereas Amazon Go appears limited to convenience store-sized locations. The new solution also could require fewer cameras — only enough for the fleet of smart carts, rather than enough to see and analyze every item on every shelf in a store.
The Veeve announcement comes at a time when the Just Walk Out technology used in the Amazon Go model may be bumping up against a wall. A recent report by The Information found that the roll-out of Amazon Go stores has been going far more slowly than initially intended.
While Just Walk Out offers a radical vision of checkout streamlining, other less drastic checkout-minimizing models have demonstrated success. Sam’s Club’s Scan & Go, for instance, has proven popular. The chain recently began experimenting with a computer vision-enhanced version of the app.
- Ex-Amazon, Google managers reveal new grocery tech startup powered by smart shopping cart – GeekWire
- Is Amazon Go heading for a hard stop? – RetailWire
- Will new Scan & Go tech turbocharge Sam’s checkout? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Does technology like Veeve address enough of the concerns of Just Walk Out technology to make it a more viable alternative to Amazon Go and others? What are the chances that cart-level checkout solutions will be adopted by retailers, and will customers be comfortable using it?