Will other grocers beat Amazon Go to the punch?
While the U.S. continues to wait for the arrival of Amazon Go, other retailers are entering the cashier-less store space — including Amazon’s biggest emerging e-commerce rival.
Walmart recently began discussing Project Kepler, an initiative headed by the co-founder of Jet.com which, according to Recode, aims to create technology that, like Amazon Go, will eliminate the need for cashiers in-store.
In China, online retailer JD is launching hundreds of cashier-free store locations using technology that appears similar to Amazon Go. A combination of cameras and RFID tracks movement and item selections throughout the store. Facial recognition, also expected to be employed by Amazon Go, identifies customers.
According to the Telegraph, “JD explained that cameras on the ceilings of the stores can recognize customers’ movement and generate heat maps of their activity to monitor customer traffic flow, product selection and customer preferences, which helps store owners to stock efficiently.”
Facial recognition also enables the store to show customized adverts and promotions based on a customers’ shopping habits and demographics.
“With automated stores, you get rid of any chance of bad interaction with a miserable or untrained human being,” Shaun Rein, managing director for market consultancy CMR China, told The Financial Times. “They also want to look cool. Things like facial recognition still have a big wow factor among Chinese consumers.”
JD intends to offer its cashier-free checkout technology as a platform third parties can license, and is also already planning to use driverless vehicles for delivery, according to The Telegraph.
Apparently still working on overcoming challenges handling large number of customers, Amazon Go’s openings are reported to be imminent, according to a November report from Bloomberg.
While JD and now Walmart are aiming for a full “just walk out” store experience, a new successfully-implemented, cashier-less c-store in China requires more work from the customer. Although the store, Bingobox, is largely automated, customers must scan the items’ barcodes or QR codes and then pay via mobile wallet to check out.
Alibaba, Xiaomai and 7-Eleven are among other Asian retailers that have opened staff-less stores.
- Walmart is developing a personal-shopper service for rich moms — and a store with no cashiers – Recode
- Chinese online retailer JD plans to open hundreds of unmanned shops, ahead of Amazon – Telegraph
- Amazon Go still plans to transform convenience in retail stores – RetailWire
- In China, Amazon’s ‘store of the future’ is already open – Tech In Asia
- JD.com joins China automated shopping push – Financial Times
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see a major first-mover advantage to cashier-less stores? Will “just walk out” stores take hold in the U.S.? What features of the concept stores do you think will win over customers and which, if any, will be turn-offs?