“Consumer frustration with checkout lines is driving a tidal wave of demand among retailers and real estate owners keen to provide a frictionless retail experience,” said Zippin CEO Krishna Motukuri. “With annual sales of grocery stores, convenience stores and quick-serve restaurants totaling nearly $1.6 trillion in the U.S. alone, we believe there is a sizable market opportunity for us to pursue.”
Consumers download the Zippin app (available on iTunes and Google Play ) and connect their preferred payment method. The app contains their store “key” or QR code that can be scanned to gain entry to a store. Overhead cameras follow customers’ movements as they move around the store, without using face recognition. Cameras and smart shelf sensors track when and which products are picked up or put back. Combining these two inputs allows Zippin to place the right items in the right shoppers’ virtual carts. On leaving the store, customers receive a receipt detailing their charges.
Zippin is currently offering access to its San Francisco concept store through private invitation. The shop will be open to the public for limited hours during the week beginning in mid-September.
Cashierless stores have become more of an urgent goal for tech companies and retailers since Amazon opened its first Go cashierless convenience store in Seattle in January, with plans to open locations in Chicago and San Francisco this year.
“Zippin may be the first competitor to go all-in on battling Amazon Go as the pioneers of checkout-free stores, but other leading retailers like Walmart and Albertson’s have announced similar moves to enter the fray,” said Michael Jaszczyk, CEO of GK Software USA, who has been following this emerging trend. “I fully expect this trend to take hold in due time, as their momentum is only limited by retailers’ cautious approach and need to ensure a frictionless transition. The technology itself is ready for the mainstream, and we’ll soon see many more mid- and top-tier retailers experimenting with the concept. While winning the PR battle is a benefit of early adoption, the ultimate reason for deployment is simplicity and convenience, so those who wait to pilot and perfect it will be the ultimate winners.
He continued, “Retailers must also keep in mind that this technology might not be something for all retail formats. For example, processes for weight-based items, age verification and capturing product numbers are challenges that must be solved. But otherwise, once there is a model for excellence for other retailers to learn from, we’ll see many more retailers quickly fall in line — pun only somewhat intended.”