Autonomous stores usher in next-gen retail for EU

A little over a decade ago, self-checkout technology started to become mainstream in Europe.

Since then, the cashless shopping experience has gained momentum in the region as self-service options continue to expand into other retail sectors. The associated payment technologies of fuel at the pump and touch screen fast food ordering kiosks are now commonplace across the continent, supported by fewer staff and shorter queues.

To kick it up a notch and improve the self-checkout experience, a number of companies have developed advanced, artificial intelligence (AI)-powered solutions that hint at what the future of in-store retail could look like after the self-check. cash register kiosks.

Amazon’s “Just Walk Out” technology has taken the lead in that regard, with the company rolling out the checkout-less technology in Amazon Fresh Stores in the US and UK

Also see: Amazon’s ‘Just Walk Out’ Checkoutless Technology Gets Big With New Supermarket

Amazon’s smart supermarkets use a store-wide network of sensors and AI to track exactly what people add and remove from their shopping cart 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 supermarket chain

Europe’s largest supermarket chain Carrefour has also ventured into the AI-assisted shopping game.

The French multinational has launched its own smart POS system that monitors what shoppers take off the shelves with a similar system of cameras and scanners. The first Carrefour “Flash 10/10” concept store opened in Paris last year after the technology was tested in a Carrefour City+ in the Mall of the Emirates.

Read more: Carrefour’s Digital-First Expansion Brings Cashless Technology to French Shoppers

Where Carrefour’s Flash 10/10 differs from other AI-powered POS solutions is that there are no barriers at the entrance to the store and customers do not need to create an account or pre-configure an account with a linked card or bank account to can shop.

Shoppers entering are followed anonymously as a virtual avatar, making it easy for anyone to shop in a Flash 10/10 store without a Carrefour account.

Rather than do away with payment kiosks entirely, as Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology is doing, Carrefour has kept self-checkout terminals with traditional payment options, albeit in a more streamlined format.

Instead of customers having to scan each item individually, the kiosk already knows what they’ve picked up, making it easy for the customer to pay with their card, mobile wallet or cash before they leave.

Related: German supermarket chain Rewe opens autonomous store in Berlin

In June, it was announced that Rewe, the second-largest food chain in Germany, and Israel-based computer vision company Trigo have rolled out a second hybrid autonomous supermarket with a checkout-free experience in Berlin, a year after the launch of the first one in central Berlin. Cologne.

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

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

Putting a mobile spin on computer vision

Part of the reason it took so long for self-checkout kiosks to hit the mass market is the significant cost involved in purchasing the digital hardware needed to run this technology.

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

Aiming to disrupt the retail outlets market, the Berlin-based company offers brick-and-mortar retailers a low-asset, low-cost checkout solution that shoppers can download onto their mobile phones, without having to install multiple cameras or sensors. in shops or supermarkets.

Also see: 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 upfront, nor do they have the time and sophistication in IT departments to set it all up,” co-founder and CEO of the company. company, Trinh Le-Fiedler, told PYMNTS in an interview.

Read more: Biometric checkout on the horizon for UK shoppers

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

With the startup wrapping its AI technology in a mobile-friendly software solution, retailers simply need to attach smartphone holders to their shopping carts so that customers can easily scan items using their mobile devices.

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About: Findings in PYMNTS’s new study, “The Super App Shift: How Consumers Want To Save, Shop And Spend In The Connected Economy,” a partnership with PayPal, analyzed responses from 9,904 consumers in Australia, Germany, the UK and the United Kingdom. US and showed strong demand for a single multifunctional super app instead of using dozens of individual apps.

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