Amazon has officially launched a web site offering its “Just Walk Out” cashierless checkout technology to other retailers. The technology, which powers the e-Commerce giant’s 26 Amazon Go stores, is designed to expedite the checkout process by eliminating long lines and bypassing traditional payments options.
While typical Amazon Go stores require shoppers to download the Amazon mobile app or create an Amazon account so that they can scan a QR code upon entry, future Just Walk Out-enabled retailers would require shoppers to insert a credit card into a gated turnstile to enter the store.
Just as in the Amazon Go stores, items picked up by a customer and any guests who enter with them will be added to the shopper’s virtual cart. The store will then bill the credit card once the person or group leaves the store, with no barcode scans or checkout lines necessary.
“Do customers like standing in lines?” said Amazon Go VP Dilip Kumar in an interview with Reuters. “This has pretty broad applicability across store sizes, across industries, because it fundamentally tackles a problem of how you get convenience in physical locations, especially when people are hard-pressed for time.”
Shoppers seeking a receipt will be able to type their email into a kiosk at any store. Amazon will send receipts to that address each subsequent time the credit card is used at a Just Walk Out location.
Amazon said it has “several” deals in place with undisclosed customers, and the company reportedly is in talks to bring the concept to airport stores. Kumar said Amazon “potentially” could sell the service to big box competitors.
The company will install the technology at retailers’ stores, including its computer vision-powered ceiling cameras and shelf weight sensors, and Amazon will offer a 24/7 support line. The installation can take as little as “a few weeks” from the time Amazon gains access to their store, according to the web site’s FAQ section. “For new store builds, we work with retailers as part of your construction or remodel plans,” the site said. “For existing stores, we work with retailers to install the technology while minimizing impact on current operations.”
The decision further positions Amazon as a service provider to other retailers despite its best-known role as a retail competitor and disruptor. Amazon’s biggest profit driver over the past three years has been its Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud server offering, which generated $35 billion in revenue in 2019. But growth has slowed significantly for AWS, with the service posting its lowest quarterly growth ever, 34%, in Q4 2019.
If these slowdowns continue, particularly as Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud continue to gain market share, Amazon will inevitably seek out growth opportunities elsewhere. Additionally, with AWS powering the back end of the Just Walk Out technology, Amazon could potentially grab new customers for the cloud service as well.
With Amazon launching its first full-size Go Grocery store, now seems like an opportune time for the company to expand the technology beyond its convenience store roots. Amazon Go’s cashierless technology could grow into a $50 billion business, venture capital firm Loup Ventures told Reuters.
There have been rumors about Amazon licensing Go technology to other retailers since last year; in November 2019, Bloomberg reported that Amazon was planning to sell the technology in 2020.