Many stores are refocusing their efforts on online sales rather than brick-and-mortar stores. They’re also focusing on making deliveries or providing a pickup service. But a business model that we are seeing more often is the autonomous store, with one just opening in Shanghai.
AiFi Software Powering Autonomous Stores
The retail business was already facing major changes with the deliveries, pickups, and online shopping. The pandemic only furthered that all along, clearly showing a need. Amazon was one of the pioneers, introducing Amazon Go, which was interesting, as it already had an established customer base with its online business.
AiFi is behind the software powering some autonomous stores, including the new store that just launched in Shanghai, China.
Autonomous stores have no cashiers. They have systems that record which products customers are placing in their carts, then automatically charge them when they leave. “People can literally just walk into a shop, grab stuff, and then leave,” said AiFi’s CEO, Steve Gu.
The AiFi system differs from Amazon Go. The latter forces customers to use its autonomous system, requiring them to scan a QR code before they enter the store. However, AiFi stores offer a hybrid experience. They aren’t completely cashierless – customers can still pay at a cash register if they wish.
The AiFi software uses cameras to track what customers are doing in the store. Virtual shopping carts track when products are picked up and put down. A digital receipt is produced once the customer leaves the store.
Some autonomous stores use weight sensor shelves to monitors what customer purchases. Earlier AiFi models did as well.
AiFi’s Shanghai Store
AiFi sells its software to the stores. It claims it delivers “the highest industry standard” in product recognition, shopper tracking, and receipt accuracy. The largest autonomous store that utilizes cameras and is powered by AiFi software, was just opened in Shanghai. It’s a 4,000 square-foot location.
Perhaps this business model has a better chance of succeeding than Amazon’s. AiFi stores offer a choice. There are bound to be shoppers who just won’t feel comfortable with the high-tech shopping – they’ll surely appreciate the choice. Still dealing with the effects of COVID-19, no contact with cash registers, and keeping to themselves will certainly attract some customers as well.
Read on to learn how the pandemic led to a greater need for delivery robots.
Image Credit: AiFi and public domain