French retail giant Carrefour announced today the company has teamed up with AiFi, a maker of machine-vision powered checkout tech, to launch a cashierless convenience store called Carrefour Flash.
Unlike Amazon Go or other cashierless platforms that require an app, smart shopping basket, or biometric check-in, AiFi’s technology utilizes a network of cameras on the retailer’s ceiling that monitors a shopper as they move through the store and pick items up off the shelves for purchase. The computer vision’s AI creates a keypoint tracking system that creates a unique digital avatar for each customer. The system identifies each avatar by measuring the unique distance between the customer’s elbow and their hand. Because the system doesn’t require a unique biometric identifier such as a palm, facial or retinal scan, it ensures customer privacy despite using biometric tracking.
As the customer picks up items around the store, the AiFi system creates a virtual shopping cart. The system utilizes a network of 60 HD cameras and over 2000 sensors built into store shelves to track a shopper’s activity and assign it to their avatar. Once done, the customer walks up to a payment terminal to see their shopping basket and total bill within a few seconds.
This move by Carrefour is just the latest example of a retailer embracing tech that frees shoppers of checking out via a cashier. The wave of cashierless shopping formats, which kicked off in earnest with Amazon’s launch of their Amazon Go store in Seattle in early 2018, has only picked up steam over the past year and a half. One reason for the surging interest is the growing expectation from customers for low-contact ways to shop during the pandemic. The other primary driver is persistent labor shortages as food retailers deal with the high turnover of frontline workers; cashierless store concepts give them a way to operate without hiring and training new cashiers.
The Carrefour innovation team incubated and fine-tuned the new concept over the past year at the company’s headquarters in Massy, France. At launch, the new Paris store will have a total of 900 items for sale.
You can get a sneak peek of Carrefour Flash in the video below: