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Understated Evolution

Updated: Apr 12

The retail landscape is undergoing a transformation, largely driven by the rapid evolution in key technologies. Among these innovations, unattended checkout systems are leading the charge, promising to redefine and improve customer experience by enhancing convenience, and providing a seamless transaction process.

Unattended Checkout or "Cashierless" technologies offer an expedited shopping experience. This convenience is particularly appealing in the fast-paced retail food and beverage environment, where time-saving and efficiency are increasingly valued by consumers. Technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), computer vision, sensor technology, and the Internet of Things (IoT) automate the checkout process, allowing customers to simply pick up their desired items and leave, with the system automatically billing their virtual basket as they exit the store. This not only enhances the customer experience but also significantly reduces the time spent by customers in stores, potentially increasing customer throughput and store efficiency.

Despite the financial challenges of going all in, like Amazon Go, the advancement of cashierless technologies will have continued positive implications, and acceptable risk for the retail food & beverage industry. On one hand, these technologies can lead to operational cost savings by reducing the need for labor associated with traditional checkout processes, allowing retailers to repurpose employees to focus on customer service and other value-added activities​​. On the other hand, the initial setup cost and the need for ongoing technological updates could represent significant investments for retailers. Cashierless has its place, but maybe not in all footprints or customer settings.

The potential to increase sales and customer loyalty by improving the shopping experience and reducing friction points continues to improve in this sector. Reduced wait times during peak revenue, improved loss prevention, better inventory control, and increased team member retention are goals that the food and beverage industry will always strive for. Organizations seeking to be successful in these disciplines, having the foresight and treasure to adopt complimentary tech like cashierless occasion, will no doubt differentiate themselves in a competitive market and lead the pack.

Key players in the cashierless space, such as Standard AI, Zippin, Supersmart, and Amazon's Just Walk Out, each bring unique strengths and approaches. Here are some highlights:


Standard AI



Just Walk Out


Vision-based AI

AI, Computer Vision, Sensor Fusion

Scan & Go with AI Validation

Computer Vision, Deep Learning, Sensor Fusion


Minimal store modification required

Easy-to-implement, scalable

Enhances traditional shopping, easy integration

Requires significant setup, but highly scalable

User Experience

Frictionless, no physical checkout

Seamless shopping and checkout

Familiar, with an added layer of tech

Completely seamless, no checkout required

Inventory Management

Real-time tracking

Accurate tracking with sensor support

Relies on shopper scanning, validated at exit

Highly accurate, real-time data

Standard AI: Vision-Based Retail

Standard AI stands out with its vision-based autonomous checkout technology, which leverages high-resolution cameras and advanced machine learning algorithms to understand shopper behavior and manage inventory in real-time. Unlike conventional systems that rely on RFID tags or barcode scanning, Standard AI's approach minimizes the need for physical alterations to products or the store layout, making it an attractive option for retailers looking to retrofit existing spaces. The system provides a frictionless shopping experience, where customers can simply pick up items and leave the store, with the system automatically recognizing products and processing payments.

Zippin: AI and Sensor Fusion

Zippin takes a slightly different approach, combining artificial intelligence, computer vision, and sensor fusion technology to create a seamless shopping experience. Their solution integrates an array of overhead cameras with shelf sensors to accurately track which items are being picked up or returned. This dual approach not only ensures greater accuracy in recognizing products but also helps in managing inventory more effectively. Zippin's technology also supports an easy-to-implement model, which is scalable and can be customized to fit various retail formats, from small convenience stores to larger supermarkets.

Supersmart: Scan & Go Validation

Supersmart differentiates itself by enhancing the traditional shopping experience rather than completely replacing it. Their solution is based on a 'Scan & Go' model, where shoppers use a mobile app or a store-provided scanner to scan items as they shop. The unique selling point of Supersmart is its validation system, which employs AI and weight-sensor technology to quickly verify the contents of a shopper's cart or basket before they exit, significantly reducing the potential for theft or scanning errors. This system bridges the gap between traditional and fully automated checkout experiences, providing a less intrusive option for both retailers and consumers.

Just Walk Out by Amazon: Deep Learning

Amazon's Just Walk Out technology, first pioneered in Amazon Go stores, is arguably the most high-profile entrant in the unattended checkout space. It employs a sophisticated blend of computer vision, deep learning algorithms, and sensor fusion, much like its competitors. However, Amazon's vast resources and data have enabled the refinement of this technology to an impressive degree of accuracy and reliability. Shoppers entering a Just Walk Out-enabled store simply check in with a mobile app, pick up their desired items, and leave without any checkout process, with the system automatically charging their Amazon account.

It's clear that the unattended checkout landscape is rich with innovation, each system bringing its own long suits and potential barriers to entry. As these technologies become more accessible I would expect to see a broader adoption across the retail, hospitality, and food & beverage sectors. To say this will alter how we think about our consumer experience might be an understatement.


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