Caixin reports that ecommerce giant Alibaba opened an experimental convenience store equipped with big data and facial recognition technology for a five-day pop-up event in Hangzhou over the weekend. Customers scan a QR code using the Taobao app upon entering the store and can then pick items they like. To pay, they walk through a checkout door that automatically deducts the funds from their Taobao or Alipay account.
The concept of a staffless convenience store is not novel:
- In December 2016, Amazon opened its first staffless smart store called Amazon Go in the company’s headquarters in Seattle. The store is only open to Amazon employees now but is expected to open to the public sometime in 2017.
- French supermarket operator Auchan opened its first staffless BingoBox store in Shanghai in May.
- Chinese snack maker Wahaha launched five such stores in Hangzhou in June.
- A company called F5 Future Store tested a robot-operated shop in Guangzhou, and received 30 million yuan ($4.4 million) in funding to expand with “30 to 50 stores in up to six months,” Caixin noted on June 28.
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