How IoT and AI are driving cashless retail

Figure: © IoT for everyone

The opening of the Amazon Go store was a monumental shift in the way we shop. For the first time we saw what it looked like for a business powered entirely by technology. We’ve also seen this concept of checkout-less store technology in action at self-checkout kiosks in places like Walmart and other retail outlets around the world.

The entire retail trade is switching to a model that no longer requires cashiers. Although these solutions are complicated to implement, they are still within reach for most retail businesses. With artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things at the forefront, retail businesses can experience a tremendous transformation that will result in a whole new standard of shopping.

Understand cashierless technology

A cashierless store is a cashierless store that allows customers to walk in, shop, and leave without having to queue at the checkout to pay. A combination of artificial intelligence software and IoT sensors and devices makes this process fully automated. The use of AI-based cameras in retail is not new. Similar technologies are used, for example, to detect fraud and theft. But in the cashless store concept, the use of the power of artificial intelligence goes much further.

Checkoutless technology requires IoT devices working in tandem with computer vision software to create a safe, efficient, and easy-to-use store. This combination allows customers to seamlessly walk in, get what they want, and walk out seamlessly. It seems to be a wonderful future of retail where almost no human interaction will be required when shopping. Technology is working overtime behind the scenes to ensure every transaction is recorded and nothing is stolen.

In the post-pandemic world, AI-powered retail checkouts are more relevant than ever. Many people are less willing to go to crowded areas and risk their health. We’re reaching a threshold where it’s becoming more affordable to use point-of-sale technology instead of people. The digitization push is also changing the way people see shopping in retail. Smartphones are ubiquitous and there shouldn’t be any problem using them to shop offline. According to Statista, by 2024 there will be around 10,000 stores worldwide offering autonomous checkouts, up from the 350 that opened in 2018.

How does a cashless store work?

Though it sounds like a mystery, at the conceptual level, a cashless business is quite simple. It involves the same process you would go through when shopping online, with the only difference being that you will leave with real products. Checkoutless technology harnesses the power of computer vision, deep learning, IoT, and big data analytics to enable a human-free shopping experience.

The setup process

First of all, retail stores need advanced access detection technology to start the buying process when the customer enters the store. Since everything is digitized, retail stores must have dedicated customer profiles with a credit card already on file. This allows retailers to make the process as seamless and secure as possible.

For example, to shop at Amazon Go, you need a mobile app to scan a QR code at the entrance. At select Amazon Go locations, buyers can participate with a credit card or Amazon One.

camera tracking

In the next phase, cameras and sensors follow your every movement in the store. These cameras use advanced AI algorithms to recognize your face and activities. The sensors can track when you take something off the shelf and put it in your physical shopping cart. When these events occur, the virtual cart will be updated with what you added.

computer vision

At the heart of checkout shops are computer vision and deep learning algorithms, including object recognition, face recognition, pose estimation and human activity detection. This branch of computer science has to do with the use of mathematical algorithms to detect physical objects.

Computer vision technology is used to recognize your face and track what you’re doing throughout the store. Pose estimation allows the computer to analyze movements and customer behavior in real time. It’s one of the most important ways retail stores can ensure things are safe. This technology can also guarantee that the right person is using the credentials associated with the account.

Wagon with scales

The real cart that you use in a cashless store can be fitted with scales to weigh things that are bought and sold by weight. It makes the buying process seamless. You no longer have to worry about weighing things on the scale before heading to the checkout.

Caper was the first company to introduce AI-powered weight-sensitive shopping carts with sensors and screens that can identify purchases. The shopping cart also relies on deep learning algorithms to improve the accuracy rate with each use.

Go outside when you’re done

The best thing about a checkout store is the ability to walk out with items in your shopping cart. The system uses a combination of sensors and cameras to detect when people leave the home. Because the store knows what you’re putting in your shopping cart, they only have to bill you for the items you’ve purchased. Payment will be automatically debited from the buyer’s account linked to the application and you will receive a notification and receipt.

The role of AI and IoT in retail

Retail is increasingly driven by IoT and artificial intelligence. From robotic process automation to virtual try-on solutions to conversation intelligence systems that analyze sales call recordings and forecast demand, AI is opening up new avenues for retailers to grow.

At the heart of cashless retail is a combination of IoT and AI. This allows for an amazing real-time experience that offers the best of both online and offline shopping. By analogy with the human body, AI would be the brain and IoT would be the body – the body and brain must work together seamlessly to recognize everything that is going on. In the context of checkout retail, IoT devices serve as physical sensors to detect specific events.

For example, when you take an item off the shelf, you cause an event – the AI ​​software then responds to the event and reacts to it. This action usually consists of adding everything you have picked up to your virtual shopping cart. IoT devices are there to capture what’s going on. The software receives this information and makes decisions based on it.

As one of the major trends in the retail industry, the unification of IoT and AI offers full automation of retail stores. Therefore, with the development and wider adoption of these technologies, the number of checkout shops will also increase. If this concept already looks affordable for major players in most cases, it may very soon become a ubiquitous solution for retailers.

Final Thoughts

Cashless store technology streamlines the entire shopping process. With autonomous checkouts, shopping is faster and more convenient. Retailers also have access to a lot of data that they can use with AI to make accurate predictions about customer behavior and create more personalized and relevant offers. Shoppers have a more effortless experience — all they have to do is grab what they want and walk away. Shopping has never been easier for people.

The combination of artificial intelligence, machine learning and IoT devices is driving a new format of shopping. These tools have matured enough that point-of-sale technology is within reach of most store owners. All they need are experienced technology partners to help them combine complex technologies into an efficient and seamless system.

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