Frictionless Pick and Go

Tesco, a UK firm doing business in 11 countries, is testing a cashierless store design that goes beyond Amazon's Go.

Tesco is not dependent on bar codes, RFID smart tags, or customer scanning.

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Tesco is one of several grocers testing cashierless stores with cameras that track what shoppers pick, so they pay by simply walking out the door.

Tesco’s 4,000-square-foot test store uses 150 ceiling-mounted cameras to generate a three-dimensional view of products as they are taken off shelves. In its recent demo, Tesco’s system detected shoppers as they walked around the store. It also identified a group of products when a person holding them stood in front of a screen, tallying up their total price. Tesco is considering identifying shoppers through an app or loyalty card when they enter the store and then charging their app when they leave.

Tesco told investors its method costs one-tenth of systems used by its competitors, partly because it only uses cameras. Amazon Go uses cameras and sensors to track what shoppers pick. Amazon customers scan a QR code at a gate when they enter a store, then walk out when finished.

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French retail giant Carrefour SA is also running tests in at least two stores where cameras track what is taken off shelves and shoppers are charged automatically when they leave. Carrefour is working with French startup Qopius Technology, whose cameras and software can read labels on products.

Limitations

For now, Tesco's pick and go is only in use at smaller stores and it's still a test.

And what about something like a bunch of bananas or a handful of potatoes?

The technology seems better suited for department stores that do not have weigh-priced items and for which it would be easier to place a RFID tag.

Then again, who needs department stores? Amazon and online retailers are killing those stores.

The bottom line is the same in either case, the end of cashiers is coming.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

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