The first retailer to use Amazon’s so-called “Just Walk Out” cashierless technology has been confirmed as Cibo Express, with the first such outlet opening at Newark Liberty airport on March 16. The news comes just days after Amazon confirmed plans to sell its automated checkout technology to third-party retailers, though it stopped short of revealing any clients at the time.
Amazon first debuted its Amazon Go checkout-free supermarket concept back in 2016, meshing computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning smarts to allow customers to put groceries into their basket and just walk out — with the payment automatically debited from their Amazon account. The company has since opened more than two dozen such stores across the U.S., but now that it is licensing the technology to third-parties, this enables the technology to scale far more quickly in the mainstream consumer sphere.
Hospitality group OTG operates more than 100 Cibo Express gourmet markets at airports across North America, and from next week visitors to Terminal C at Newark Liberty International Airport will be able to use its newfangled Amazon-powered checkouts.
Just walk out
Unlike Amazon Go stores, which require the customer to have an Amazon account and scan a mobile app on entry, Cibo Express customers have to scan their credit card to enter and they just grab whatever items they want and walk out. The on-shelf weight sensors automatically detect items as they’re removed or replaced, with the items added (or removed) to a virtual cart accordingly.
Airports make a great deal of sense for cashierless technology deployment, given that millions of people may be time-pressed to make a flight — long queues may deter some customers from entering a store, but if they know they can shop without lining up, this could encourage higher footfall.
“OTG has always embraced technology as a means of optimizing the airport experience so that we can give our guests their time back,” noted OTG CEO Rick Blatstein. “By using the world’s most advanced shopping technology in our CIBO Express Gourmet Markets, we’re doing just that by putting our guests in full control of their time”
A number of other players are already operating in the AI-powered checkout sphere, such as Grabango and Standard Cognition. But Amazon is uniquely positioned to capitalize on the growing demand for cashierless stores, given its brand recognition and technological backbone.
Indeed, Just Walk Out represents the latest in a line of technologies that Amazon has developed initially for its own-use and then opened to third-parties — the most obvious other example of this being Amazon’s AWS cloud division, which began as an internal project to improve its own infrastructure. Today, AWS represents more than 10% of Amazon’s revenue globally, and it is what also underpins its automated checkouts — so this move will go a long way toward driving its cloud revenue up even more.
OTG said that it plans to open additional cashierless stores at Newark Liberty and LaGuardia Airports at a later date.