According to Omnico’s US Retail Report, 74 percent of consumers believe technology will make shopping easier and remove sources of annoyance, like long lines at the register. A start-up called Noka recently introduced its cashierless technology for grocery stores and supermarkets.
What sets Tbilisi Georgia-based Noka’s tech apart from simple self-checkout is its smart shopping baskets. When customers enter a store equipped with Noka’s technology, they grab a basket and touch a sensor button (not a fingerprint sensor). They are then let in the barrier separating the entrance and main store area.
Once in the store area, customers grab items and fill up their baskets. Noka’s baskets identify the shopper and track the items placed into the basket. All products are located behind fridge-like doors which cannot be opened unless a customer has their hand on the basket. Shelves within the store are equipped with weight sensors that recognize how many products are picked up from the shelf.
If a customer decides to put an item back, it is automatically subtracted from the order. At checkout, they simply press the sensor button again and pay with a credit card or Apple pay. After payment is complete, the customer can exit out the two-way barrier.
According to David Topchishvili, the CEO of Noka, “Unlike Amazon Go, Trigo, AiFi and other competitors, NOKA technology doesn’t use recognition cameras, we don’t need large servers for computing, and it can be easily scalable.”
Although Noka does stand apart with its smart shopping baskets, there are still a lot of companies in this space. A company that has a similar concept to Noka, is Israel-based Shopic, which has created smart shopping carts. Amazon was one of the first to debut its cashierless tech in 2018, with its first Amazon Go. Other companies in the cashierless space include AiFi, Mashgin, Grabango, and Trigo.
Noka unveiled a prototype of its system in August 2020 and trialed it at an experimental store with 100 SKUs in November 2020. In September 2021, the company’s deployed its baskets for the first time in an actual store environment in its home country of Georgia. In this first real-world deployment, the company’s baskets can identify up to 1,000 product SKUs.