Autonomous stores introduce next-gen retail for the EU

A little over a decade ago, self-checkout technology began to take off in Europe.

Since then, the point-of-sale retail experience has grown in importance in the region as self-service options increasingly expand into other retail sectors. The associated payment technologies, such as gas pumps and touchscreen fast-food ordering kiosks, are now a common sight across the continent, buoyed by fewer staff and shorter queues.

To go one step further and enhance the self-checkout experience, a number of companies have developed cutting-edge artificial intelligence (AI)-based solutions that offer a hint as to what the future of brick-and-mortar retail post-self-service looks like could. tills.

Amazon’s “Just Walk Out” technology is a leader in this regard, as the company introduces checkout-less technology to Amazon Fresh stores in the US and UK

See also: Amazon’s ‘Just Walk Out’ checkoutless technology is going big with new grocery store

Amazon’s smart grocery stores use a store-wide network of sensors and AI to track exactly what customers are adding to and removing from their carts in real time. When shoppers are ready to leave, their connected accounts are automatically charged instead of physically checking out at a cashier or using a self-service kiosk.

Smart checkout at Europe’s largest grocery chain

Europe’s largest grocer Carrefour has also ventured into the AI-supported shopping game.

The French multinational has rolled out its own smart checkout system, which uses a similar system of cameras and scanners to monitor what shoppers have taken from the shelves. The first Carrefour “Flash 10/10” concept store opened in Paris last year after testing the technology at a Carrefour City+ in the Mall of the Emirates.

Continue reading: Carrefour’s digital-first expansion brings checkerless technology to French shoppers

Carrefour’s Flash 10/10 differs from other AI-driven checkout solutions in that there are no barriers at the store’s entrance and customers do not need to create an account or pre-configure an account with a connected card or bank account in order to shop .

Entering shoppers are tracked anonymously as a virtual avatar, making it easy for anyone to shop at a Flash 10/10 store without a Carrefour account.

Rather than doing away with payment kiosks altogether, like Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology is doing, Carrefour has retained self-checkout terminals with traditional payment options, albeit in a sleeker format.

Instead of scanning each item individually, the kiosk already knows what it has picked up and the customer simply has to pay with their card, mobile wallet or cash before exiting.

Related: The German grocery chain Rewe opens an autonomous market in Berlin

In June, it was announced that Rewe, the second-biggest grocery retail chain in Germany, and Israel-based computer vision company Trigo launched a second hybrid, autonomous grocery store with a checkout-free experience in Berlin, a year after the first launched one in Cologne Downtown.

Additionally, earlier this year, Polish convenience giant Żabka Group announced that it had completed the opening of a chain of 25 autonomous stores using contactless, AI-powered computer vision technology.

Other European supermarket chains like Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Aldi are all testing a version of the AI-powered frictionless shopping technology, a strong indication that contactless, frictionless and autonomous commerce is the future of retail for European shoppers.

A mobile twist on computer vision

One reason self-checkout kiosks have taken so long to reach the mass market is the significant cost involved in purchasing the digital hardware required to use this technology.

But the German startup Nomitri relies on a much cheaper middle step between the current European standard and the future of a fully automated shopping and checkout experience.

The Berlin-based company, which aims to revolutionize the point-of-sale retail market, offers physical retailers a low-cost, low-resource checkout solution that shoppers can download to their mobile phones without the need to install multiple cameras or sensors in shops or supermarkets.

See also: Low-cost self-checkout system aims to disrupt the retail POS market

“We understand that retailers don’t have the money to invest in all of this infrastructure up front, nor do they have the time and know-how in terms of IT departments to set all of this up,” says the co-founder and CEO of the company. Trinh Le-Fiedler told PYMNTS in an interview.

Continue reading: Biometric checkout on the horizon for UK shoppers

Similar to the high-tech smartstore model, Nomitri uses computer vision to automatically recognize items without having to scan a barcode.

However, as the startup packages its AI technology into a mobile-optimized software solution, retailers only need to attach smartphone holders to their shopping carts so customers can easily scan items with their mobile devices.

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