The checkout could soon become a thing of the past.
If you thought you had to be as big as Amazon to go checkout-free, think again. California-based start-up AiFi has created a checkout-free solution that it claims will work for all retailers, from small shops to megastores.
Similar to Amazon Go, AiFi uses artificial intelligence (AI) and sophisticated sensor and camera networks to provide a checkout-free solution. The technology incorporates AiFi’s proprietary computer vision algorithms, using low-power mobile devices to run multi-person behaviour tracking and product recognition in real time. Also like Amazon Go, shoppers will use a smartphone app to pay for their goods.
AiFi CEO Steve Gu said the solution does not require any major retrofitting as it can use existing in-store cameras. Once installed, retailers will have access to improved inventory management data as well as valuable insights into consumer shopping habits and product preferences.
AiFi was founded in 2016 by Gu and his wife Ying Zheng, who both have previous experience at Google and Apple.
Gu said AiFi will benefit retailers and their customers by solving a common shopping frustration—waiting in line.
“More than 90 per cent of last year’s [US] retail sales came from physical stores yet Americans spent at least 37 billion hours waiting in line, which is considered the top frustration among shoppers.
“Consumers and businesses alike want to be efficient and with a checkout-free store, consumers have an incredible shopping experience. Because our technology is massively scalable, tens of thousands of stores worldwide can become a ‘grab and go’ type of retailer.”
AiFi plans to launch a pilot store at the end of this year that Gu promises will be “orders of magnitude bigger than the Amazon Go store” with more large stores to follow.
“The shopping experience now demonstrated and widely promoted by Amazon is just the tiniest taste of what the AiFi technology will do for retailers—with shops that range from tiny to huge.”
Aside from offering convenience for customers, a major benefit of AiFi for retailers is the tracking system, which can continuously track hundreds or thousands of shoppers in a store and provide a comprehensive understanding of shopping behaviours and gestures, including identifying abnormal gestures and people who are shopping in a group.