Standard Cognition, a California-based startup focused on delivering an AI-based, checkout-free store experience, announced last week that its technology would serve as an “alternative to Amazon Go.”
Like the Amazon concept, which is still confined to a single beta testing location in Seattle that has yet to open to anyone besides Amazon employees, the Standard Cognition platform is designed to enable consumers to shop and pay without scanning or stopping to check out. The startup is already in advanced talks with multiple retailers, according to a company statement.
It’s one thing for the technology to be available: solutions are always paraded at trade shows such as NRF and the Consumer Electronics Show to illustrate what they can do. But it’s generally a long set of steps before they are tested in the real world, much less prove practical enough to be deployed on a large scale.
Checkout-free retailing, no matter how effective the technology may end up being, will still take a lot of time and research from retailers to prove it can be both accurate and efficient. While RFID chips and tags have long been used for loss prevention in stores, they haven’t proven perfect in catching every single item that is stolen. Take this concept and apply it within the checkout experience, and it’s possible that items would not be detected after shelf removal, creating a potential parade of items literally walking out of the store.
And even in the case of established solutions such as cashier-less self-checkout kiosks in grocery stores, there still are kinks in the concepts. Barcodes often don’t scan or take longer than normal, and the payment process can be slow and clunky. In many instances, a human being has to be called over to assist in the checkout. With that in mind, it’s reasonable to believe the checkout-free technology will still need human assistance at some point in the journey.
The added factor of the mobile user experience could also play a part in the eventual popularity of this technology, especially since both Amazon Go and the Standard Cognition system require a mobile app to check in at a store. These apps must require as few steps as possible to ensure they don’t make shopping more cumbersome for the consumer than traditional processes.
Until Amazon reveals the results of its own test or announces an expansion, retailers are going to have to try out their own platforms to know if they would be a good fit for them and their customers.
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