Amazon Go Expands, and Other Retailers Want In

The Lempert Report: A new company gives retailers the opportunity to get the latest on "shop and go" technology that tracks customer behavior

At last month's Shoptalk conference in Las Vegas, I visited computer vision tech company AiFi that is now offering AI technology, sensor and camera networks to all retailers regardless of size. It's now retailers' opportunity to get in on the latest technology that allows shoppers, as Amazon says, to “shop and go” without stopping at the cashier. 

Targeting what AiFi calls the "trillion-dollar opportunity" for all retail stores to upgrade and innovate, capturing offline data and behavioral trends, the technology incorporates its proprietary computer vision algorithms with computing at the edge, using low-power mobile devices to run multiperson behavior tracking and product recognition in real time. 

"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," said Steve Gu, CEO of AiFi. "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. Our pilot will roll out in one very large store, [with] orders of magnitude bigger than the Amazon Go store, at the end of this year, with many more large stores to follow, so thousands of consumers will experience the delight of no longer standing in long and tedious checkout lines." 

Sure, the tech is cool, and perhaps can be foolproof; but the most interesting thing to me is how this type of tech can offer retailers and brands a comprehensive understanding of shopping behaviors and gestures—even identifying abnormal gestures, according to AiFi, and people who are shopping together as a group. It's a daunting task, but if achievable, would be the most valuable information a retailer could get. One question I have is whether this tiny company that has raised just $4 million in seed funding has the wherewithal to make it a reality.



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