Amazon recently announced that it had begun selling its cashierless technology, named ‘Just Walk Out’, to other retailers. Just days after the announcement was made, airport retailer OTG revealed it would be among the first to use the technology in its own stores. OTG runs more than 350 restaurants and retail locations in North American airports.
It’s been two years since the web retailer launched its till-less Amazon Go chain. Shoppers at Amazon Go Grocery stores need only scan their smartphone on entry and they will be automatically billed for the items they take, without having to use a checkout or interact with a cashier.
Amazon argues that the Just Walk Out technology could free up workers to perform more “valuable activities”
The stores harness technology such as ceiling cameras and shelf-weight sensors that Amazon claims can take “as little as a few weeks” to install. The Just Walk Out system differs slightly from the one used in Amazon Go stores, in that it requires the registration of a payment card on entry, instead of the customer simply scanning their smartphone.
Now that Amazon is selling its Just Walk Out technology, cashierless stores like Go Grocery could be about to enter the mainstream. Other start-ups such as AiFi, Grabango and Standard Cognition are already pioneering their own automated checkout systems, and the market could eventually grow to $50bn, US venture firm Loup Ventures estimates.
The growth of the sector potentially endangers the jobs of more than 3.5 million cashiers working in the US today. However, on its Just Walk Out website, Amazon argues that the technology could actually free up workers to perform more “valuable activities”. It stresses that cashierless stores will still require workers “to greet and answer shoppers’ questions, stock the shelves, check IDs for the purchasing of certain goods, and more”. Nonetheless, some retailers could show resistance to working with Amazon, with many still viewing it as a major rival in the retail space.