Amazon will start offering its cashier-less technology to other retailers, it has announced, in a move that could help the e-commerce giant's cloud services business to dominate retail, even as customer reception remains unknown.
The system, which uses a combination of cameras, shelf sensors, computer vision and deep learning, allows customers to pay automatically as they leave a store and so avoid having to queue for the checkout.
Amazon already uses the same system linked to an app on customers’ phones in its Amazon Go cashier-less convenience stores and its new Amazon Go grocery store in Seattle.
Reuters reports the announcement is part of Amazon’s strategy of developing capabilities and then selling these as services to other businesses. These include warehouses and cloud technology.
Its Amazon Go stores have helped the cashier-less concept go mainstream, Reuters says, reporting that the market for retail without cashiers could grow to $50 billion.
Dilip Kumar, Amazon’s vice president of physical retail and technology, told Reuters the size of the business would be determined by shoppers’ preferences.
“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,” Kumar said.
The technology Amazon will be offering other retailers will work slightly differently from its Amazon Go stores. Instead of using an app, shoppers will use a credit card to open a turnstile and enter a store. The turnstile will show a “Just Walk Out technology by Amazon” logo, and all items picked up by the shopper will be added to a virtual shopping cart and the customer’s credit card will be billed once they have left the store.
Amazon will install the necessary hardware, including ceiling cameras and sensors on shelves, at retailers’ stores, either new ones or those undergoing a refit, and the company says installation and setup can be completed in a few weeks.
One bonus for Amazon from the new business line is likely to be increased use of Amazon Web Services, its cloud platform that runs the cashier-less system.
But, as TechCrunch reports, customer reception to cashier-less systems are still something of an unknown. Amazon stores are still novel, but some customers may be put off by the high level of surveillance-like technology that makes the system work.
Reuters, TechCrunch; additional content by WARC staff