Can Zippin zip past where Amazon Go is going?
With only two Amazon Go stores live (the second having just opened this morning, according to KIRO news), there’s still plenty of room for the great disruptor to be disrupted. San Francisco-based Zippin hopes to be the checkout-free grocer that just walks in and wins at “just walk out.”
Zippin, founded by industry veterans from Amazon and SRI, opened a “just walk out”-enabled concept store in San Francisco’s SOMA neighborhood. In a statement, Zippin notes that while early approaches to autonomous shopping have relied solely on cameras to track purchases, its technology uses a combination of overhead cameras and smart shelf sensors for a higher level of accuracy.
Zippin said in a statement, “Cameras and smart shelf sensors track when and which products are picked up or put back. Combining these two inputs allows Zippin to place the right items in the right shoppers’ virtual carts.”
The start-up said its approach stands out for its ability to work accurately even in a crowded store.
Zippin is marketing its solution, which integrates its own software with readily available hardware, for other grocers to deploy.
“Consumer frustration with checkout lines is driving a tidal wave of demand among retailers and real estate owners keen to provide a frictionless retail experience,” said Zippin CEO, Krishna Motukuri. “With annual sales of grocery stores, convenience stores and quick-serve restaurants totaling nearly $1.6 trillion in the U.S. alone, we believe there is a sizeable market opportunity for us to pursue.”
Other hotly-anticipated combatants may enter the competition for “just walk out” dominance in the U.S. In June, Reuters revealed that Microsoft had been not only working on checkout-free technology, but discussing a potential partnership with Walmart.
In Japan, San Francisco-based vendor Standard Cognition plans to pilot a “just walk out”-enabled store in 2019 in conjunction with Japanese drugstore supplier Paltac, according to Fast Company. The two partners intend to have 3,000 stores set up with the technology by the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Elsewhere in Asia, Xiaomai, BingoBox and Alibaba are among the many players chasing the cashier-free retail opportunity, with some players utilizing facial-recognition technologies.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Given Zippin’s arrival on the scene and the possibility of a Microsoft/Walmart partnership, what path do you now see “just walk out”/cashier-less grocery technology taking in the U.S.? Do you see a sizeable opportunity for start-ups such as Zippin at this point?