business news in context, analysis with attitude

Wired has a story about Zippin in San Francisco, described as one of two cashier-free stores in America. (The other is Amazon Go.)

Except that Zippin isn’t really a store. It’s what founder Krishna Motukuri calls a “software play,” with the playground now being a pop-up store.

“All the hardware is commodity - the turnstile, the weight sensors in the shelves, the cameras in the ceiling that link your image to your unique QR code,” Wired writes. “It's up to the computers to match all that together and charge your card when you leave. (The computer puts a green square around your image from above; there's nothing biometric about it, unless someone figures out how to characterize individual differences in male pattern baldness.)”

Motukuri “sees a checkout-free future for gas station stores, convenience stores, airports, hotel lobbies,” and tells Wired, "We expect everyone will want to customize it.”

And there seems to be a lot of momentum for the checkout-free concept: “The basic technology is probably not going away,” Wired writes. “Microsoft, Walmart, and Toshiba have announced their own versions. A report from Juniper Research says technology-enabled checkouts account for just about $9 billion a year in the US today, but they're headed toward $78 billion by 2022. Meanwhile, in China a dozen companies are building cashier-free convenience-type stores from scratch, and everyone already uses a phone-based digital wallet - they made $9 trillion worth of mobile payments there in 2016.”

You can read more about Zippin here.
KC's View:
No surprise here, in the sense that from the moment I heard about Amazon Go’s checkout-free technology, it seemed absolutely inevitable that we would see a lot more of it, in various iterations and created by a variety of companies.

As I’ve said from the beginning, checkout-free technology rewires your brain. It is like EZPass or TSA PreCheck … one you’ve used it, you never want to stand in line again. And since checkouts are seen by consumers as a major pain point, it simply makes sense for most retailers, whenever possible, to eliminate the pain.