Automation of tedious work is a constant force in innovation but there's still one area of our everyday shopping experience which is harder to crack, processing in-person transactions in grocery stores.
Amazon took a giant leap at the problem as reported by Techcrunch last February. The new 'Just Walk Out' technology from the supermarket formerly ran 25 Amazon Go convenient stores in a number of major U.S. metros. Located in Amazon's native Seattle, the new 'Amazon Go Grocery Stores' allow shoppers to shop for daily foodstuffs like organic, beef, fish, bakery, domestic supplies, milk, dairy and convenience.
Shoppers first use Amazon's software for screening before going into a supermarket, then buy as usual. Cameras and sensors monitor any items taken from the shelf that are afterwards transferred to the shopping cart.
Then there is the Russian grocer Azbuka Vkusa whose cashier-free concept partnership with tech provider Zippin was trialed last June. According to NCFW, The grocer made the aisle into a cashierless shop inside one of its Moscow supermarkets that allows shoppers to use their phones in a shopping cart at the entrance of the aisle.
“As far as we can tell, it is the first ever checkout-free store in the world that is deployed using a store-within-a-store model,” says technology provider Zippin.
"'Shoppers check in with Sberbank Take & Go smartphone app at a towering style built at the entrance to the alley.
Shoppers pick the things they want to buy, pay with a connected credit card, and then leave the aisle without visiting the cashier. The opportunity to build an environment free of cash inside an actual store gives consumers a host of benefits in order to find alternatives to social distancing measures.
Earlier this month, Zippin had revealed an exclusive collaboration to carry checkout-free technology to Japan with Fujitsu.
Fujitsu will be using the Zippin platform in the Japanese market by March 2021 after a successful pilot in a Fujitsu Lawson store which was also the first cashier-free store in the world to use the palm reader system when it opened its premises in February 2020.
The Metti Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry started growing retail automation initiatives in 2017, when it depended on convenience stores or "konbini" in Japan and the inevitable labor force crisis. Japanese supermarkets are looking closely for ways of automating the buying process, in particular convenience stores, since not enough people are working with their shops. This technology's demand puts Zippin in a position to collaborate with Fujitsu.
Few convenience store chains have checked RFID tags for cashless transactions but do not relieve the wait times generally. RFID technology has a high cost, which makes the model unattractive.
Zippin is betting on a mix of emerging technology such as multibiometric verification developed by Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd., and global expertise in Zippin's implementation of AI based check-out solutions. The pilot's performance again shows that he is keen for improvement.