With Amazon Go out in the wild trying to technology the cashier out of existence, the race seems to be on to re-imagine the automated commerce future.
Among new entrants to the race? Panasonic, which is presently introducing the world to its checkout solution, a machine that can detect items in your shopping cart, tally the bill, and automatically bag those items.
The system relies on a basket that scans items with specialized tags as they are placed inside. When checkout time comes, the consumer places the basket on the checkout machine. The bottom of the basket slides out, items gently tumble into a bag and the customer settles up the bill.
This automated grocery store is a bit different from Amazon Go — as it will still work in a market where consumers are using cash or want to work with a cashier.
"We need a good solution also for customers who wouldn’t like a completely digitalized system,” Yasuyuki Fukui, a Panasonic business-development executive, told WSJ.
The goal he noted, is to make the experience better for shoppers rather than eliminate the need for human employees within the store. Stores, he notes, are places of community where perhaps eliminating the human touch entirely is not the best of ideas. The smart shopping basket would also require considerably less surveillance than Amazon Go’s system.
The Panasonic smart basket is currently getting a test run at a Lawson convenience store in Osaka, Japan where Panasonic is headquartered.
February of 2017 is when that initial testing is set to conclude — the baskets are expected to make a wider commercial debut in 2018.