Amazon has begun marketing its cashierless checkout technology directly to other retailers, offering a system that allows customers to simply walk out of stores, paying for their purchases automatically, according to The Verge.
Amazon explains in its website FAQ:
“We built Just Walk Out technology leveraging the same types of technologies used in self-driving cars: computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning. We provide all the necessary technologies to enable checkout-free shopping in a retailer’s store and offer retailers 24/7 support via phone and email.”
The technology relies on ceiling-mounted cameras and weight sensors built into shelves, which can distinguish whether a customer merely picked up an item to look closer, or held on to it for purchase. Customers are free to walk out once they’ve finished shopping, and receive a receipt through email. Despite the extensive equipment required, Amazon says it can set it up a shop to use the system in just a few weeks.
The technology is already in use at the company’s Amazon Go convenience stores in Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, and New York. The move also comes just weeks after the company opened a full-size grocery store that uses the technology, in Seattle. At those stores, customers swipe can an app.
In third-party stores, customers must swipe a credit card when they enter. But if it catches on, the technology would still bring sweeping changes for both customers and retail workers.
According to Amazon’s vice president of physical retail and technology, Dilip Kumar:
“Do customers like standing in lines? This has pretty broad applicability across store sizes, across industries, because it fundamentally tackles a problem of how do you get convenience in physical locations, especially when people are hard-pressed for time.”
On its website, Amazon claims the technology will have a minimal impact on retail employment:
“Retailers will still employ store associates to greet and answer shoppers’ questions, stock the shelves, check IDs for the purchasing of certain goods, and more – their roles have simply shifted to focus on more valuable activities.”
Unlike at Amazon Go shops, users’ Amazon accounts won’t be involved, since customers will pay directly with credit cards. There will be Amazon branding on the turnstiles, but otherwise, branding will be left up to individual retailers.
The company said its already signed deals with several retailers, and launched a new website for its Just Walk Out technology.
Photo by SounderBruce from Seattle, United States / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)