Amazon is all set to announce a new business line that will now sell the technology behind its cashier-less convenience stores to other retailers. This will be covered by a new website that will invite others to inquire about the service, dubbed Just Walk Out technology by Amazon.
It reflects Amazon’s strategy to build internal capabilities like warehouses to help with package delivery and cloud technology to support its website - and then turning those into lucrative services it offers others.
Its chain Amazon Go has brought shopping without checkout lines into the mainstream, and the market for retail without cashiers - one of the most common vocations in the United States - could grow to $50 billion, U.S. venture firm Loup Ventures has estimated.
Dilip Kumar, Amazon’s vice president of physical retail and technology, had no market forecast to share but said shoppers’ preferences will determine how big the business becomes.
“Do customers like standing in lines?” he asked. “This has pretty broad applicability across store sizes, across industries, because it fundamentally tackles a problem of how do you get convenience in physical locations, especially when people are hard-pressed for time.”
Here unlike Amazon Go stores, shoppers will need to insert a credit card into a gated turnstile to enter, rather than scan an app. The turnstiles will display the logo “Just Walk Out technology by Amazon,” but all other branding and store aspects will be controlled by the retailer using the service.
Items picked up by a customer and any guests who enter with them will be added to the shopper’s virtual cart. The store will then bill the credit card once the person or group leaves the store - no bar code scans or checkout lines necessary.
Kumar said Amazon will install the technology including ceiling cameras and shelf weight sensors at retailers’ stores, whether they are new locations or retrofits, and it will have a 24x7 support line.
This will lead to increased usage of Amazon Web Services, the company’s cloud that underpins its checkout-free systems. Other vendors including Grabango and AiFi are also offering automated checkout to retailers. Media reports have said Amazon was in talks to bring its technology to airport stores, for instance, rather than to Walmart Inc or Target Corp. Kumar said Amazon “potentially” could sell the service to big box rivals but would not speculate.
One issue that may arise is who owns the shopper data, something that businesses typically want in order to tailor marketing offers and build their customer base.
Amazon will send receipts to that address each subsequent time the credit card is used at a Just Walk Out location, no matter the retailer. Kumar said Amazon saves the email address and ties that to the credit card information, solely for the purpose of charging the customer.