A farewell to the cash register
The Future. No one likes standing in line at the grocery store, so companies are rolling out “frictionless” checkout tech that allows customers to walk into a store, grab what they need, and simply walk out… with a bevy of sensors, cameras, and AI making sure the store bills you properly. With all that data being collected as you shop, don’t be surprised if you start getting targeted ads based on what you picked up for dinner that night.
Where did all the cashiers go?
According to Axios, a handful of companies are ensuring that we never have to ring up with a cashier again.
- Amazon’s “Just Walk Out” tech — a walk-through turnstile system — is available in Whole Foods, Amazon Go, Fresh, upcoming department stores, and many airports and stadiums.
- Grabango’s system — which utilizes only computer vision — is up and running in retailers like Giant Eagle and Circle K.
- Zippin’s tech — where you just tap your card on an entrance turnstile — is being used at Barclays Center and Dave & Buster’s.
And there’s also the rollout of smart shopping carts that keep a running total of the bill as you put in items. Albertsons has tapped Veeve to test such a system, and Instacart debuted its own cart powered by its acquisition of Caper AI.
While these new technologies promise to make the retail shopping experience, especially groceries, easier and more efficient, there are some bugs.
- A report by retail consulting firm Alvarez & Marsal found that stores with Just Walk Out tech confused customers and forced them to search for a cashier.
- Some make shoplifting easier, leading Wegmans and Walmart to scale back on their proprietary systems.
- And some people still feel that the Big Brother qualities of the automated checkout system outweigh the efficiencies.
But considering how much companies want to cut down on labor costs (or are just struggling to fill positions), the tech may be too good to pass up… and hope customers just learn as they shop.