San Francisco-based Zippin has signed an 18-month deal with Brazil's largest retailer, Lojas Americanas S.A., to provide its checkout-free technology to stores throughout the country. The retailer will use the tech in Ame Go locations where customers can access the store by scanning the company's Ame Digital app.
Cashier-less Ame Go stores will vary in size from 250 to 3,000 square feet and are planned for high-traffic urban areas, according to a Zippin company release sent to Retail Dive. A store with Zippin technology has already opened in Rio de Janeiro, and the next location slated to open is Sao Paulo in September.
Zippin's checkout-free technology uses machine learning, cameras, and smart shelf sensors to track shoppers' movements and product selection. Customers are charged for the items they select as they leave the Ame Go location. "[T]he new Lojas Americanas stores make Zippin the first company to deploy its checkout-free technology in a live, public store with a major retail partner," Zippin CEO Krishna Motukuri said in a company statement.
Zippin's partnership with Lojas Americanas S.A. positions it as a competitor to Amazon Go, which has 15 stores and counting in the United States. But while Amazon Go expands and Ame Go kicks off, the wider retail landscape may have a harder time switching to checkout-free stores. One issue is sheer physical footprint and the challenge of retrofitting existing stores with smart-shelf sensors or extensive camera systems. Another is the amount of inventory to manage via such a system.
Smaller footprints make developing checkout-free stores more manageable, but it may also hinder growth. Juniper Research anticipates that global average spending in smart checkout stores won't surpass $30 per visit until 2022. Until a retailer is willing to take a chance on a larger-format checkout-free store, the shopping model may be limited to convenience items.
But don't count anyone out of the running just yet. Last year, Microsoft and Walmart were reportedly considering working together on a cashier-less POS system, and startup Standard Cognition announced it plans to go live at two retailers later this year after a $35 million Series B funding round.
Meanwhile, customers seem to be ready for increased self-checkout options and the rise of cashier-less stores. In a January 2019 report by tech firm SOTI, 73% of shoppers surveyed said they preferred self-service retail technology over interacting with store associates.