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Automated stores get closer to primetime

These real-world automated store rollouts can serve as examples for your retail customers.

January 31, 2020

Automated stores get closer to primetime
In 2020, it’s safe to assume that if point of sale technology can be leveraged to improve the customer experience, retailers will be interested in learning more. One area that falls in this category is the automated store.

The most familiar automated store concept is Amazon Go, which promises to eliminate checkout lines by using computer vision, sensors and machine learning to allow customers to grab their items and walk out of the store. While Amazon Go is all about convenient checkout, other automated store concepts are focused on other methods of delivering positive customer experiences. Here are a few examples worth studying for your customers.

BingoBox—Amazon Go might have raised awareness of the automated store concept, but BingoBox has run with it. The Chinese company now has more than 500 cashierless convenient stores in APAC, with even more planned. Each BingoBox has a QR code by its entrance which customers must scan with their phone to open the door and begin shopping. Once shopping is complete, customers place their items onto a scanner surface where everything is tallied and payment can be made. If customers run into any issues, there is a help button that will connect to live support via video conferencing.

7-Eleven pilot—After a small-scale pilot in Dallas, 7-Eleven recently rolled out mobile checkout to its New York City stores. Customers with the 7-Eleven app and loyalty program can bypass the checkout counter by scanning their items and paying for purchases electronically. According to the company, mobile checkout works for most barcoded merchandise. Some purchases that require age verification still require assistance from a cashier.

Walmart’s Intelligent Retail Lab (IRL)—Late last year, Walmart opened its store of the future in Levittown, NY. The most interesting aspect of this pilot is the scope. While Amazon Go, BingoBox and 7-Eleven are small footprint stores, Walmart’s automated store concept covers 50,000 square feet of floor space. Walmart’s IRL is also unique in that the retailer isn’t using automation for self-checkout. Rather, the company is using AI-powered cameras to monitor inventory levels to help associates keep shelves stocked.

Kroger and Microsoft’s pilot—Earlier this month, these two companies announced a pilot of two connected grocery stores built to automate and optimize the supermarket shopping experience. The solution includes digital shelf tags that can be remotely updated in real time. The tags can also be used to help shoppers identify items on the shopping lists they create in the Kroger app. Interestingly, the results of this pilot might be turned into a turnkey solution made available to other retailers who are interested in automated stores but don’t have the resources to develop their own solutions.

If you’re interested in bringing automated store solutions to your customers, you don’t have to wait for these pilots to end. Contact Daryl Schuster, Ingram Micro’s DCPOS expert, for assistance in bringing this next-generation solution to your customers today.