I wonder how this tech deals with that? Maybe they figured that out, too. But I was amused in the video when I saw the customer putting it back where it belonged, because that's not how I remember that going...
All that said, this is fantastic and exciting.
Edit: I also hope they're already thinking about EBT cards and WIC.
Right now, if you see a random perishable item sitting on a shelf, you HAVE to throw it away because it could have been there for a long time. On the other hand, if you can see that some Frozen Peas were only taken off the shelf 2 minutes ago, you can just put them back and they’ll be fine.
Although, what I’d really want is not only the time stamp but the customer. I’m sorry but if you cost the store $25 by leaving a damned ROAST in the cereal aisle, I would be perfectly happy to never let you in the store again.
Wouldn't a better solution be to charge the customer for the roast and if they complain, you explain: "sorry, you didn't put it on the proper shelf, the technology considers that as a purchase", and possibly eat the cost in the form of some incentive to come back to try to keep them. The ones that don't complain either didn't notice, or they don't care enough to stop shopping, or they won't come back like you suggest.
The ones that complain get it taken care of, the ones that don't don't cost you anything. Win-win-break even?
Retail is far too accommodating already. Some people figure that being a “valued customer” means they can be an unending source of sunken costs in time, effort and stress, among other things. And those costs can be multiplied across the other customers waiting in line, too.
If a “customer” is destroying your inventory, annoying other customers, or commanding far more of your time than warranted, there is no reason to put up with them. Protect the larger investment, which is: all your other customers, your store, and your employees.
Heck I've dropped jars or similar things during bagging after paying for them several times and every time I was offered a replacement.
Mistakes happen, it's often considerably more expensive to deal with customer complaints especially in the age of social media than it is to replace an item.
It's also important to note that this is baked into the cost of doing business all along the supply chain, if items are not sold they will be often returned by the store to the distributor which would chuck them as a loss, or more often than not sell them for other uses other than human consumption.
Some perishables are thrown away others are then sold to other industries e.g. the roast that was left over might end up as dog food...
For a dog food company it's cheaper to buy discarded meat produce the dog food take samples and while it's being shipped do the cultures to ensure that there are no contaminants or bacteria and if something fishy is found just do a recall upstream for specific batch than it is to buy "fresh" meat and ingredients which are fit for human consumption.
Supply chains are huge and complex and all these little annoyances don't really count for much, it only really bothered very small stores that have to buy everything almost up front and they aren't leasing effectively shelf space for distributors.
> Stores bake that into the cost of doing business
> "I return half of what I buy," says 30-year-old Alex Demetri, who spends £500 to £700 on clothes each month.
> She also admits to wearing some of her clothes first before returning them.
> It is customers like Ms Demetri who are causing problems for shops, which are "struggling to cope" with the number of items returned, new research suggests.
> So-called "serial returners" are bringing back items which have been used, are marked or have parts missing, making a quarter of it unfit to resell.
Occasional mistakes happen, but some people deliberately do this kind of stuff.
I don't have a source for that.
"sir, you ate 4 grapes in store. Our grapes average 2seeds/grape, so we've calculated lost sales in the range of $800.
You see, those seeds could each grow into a vine that will produce an estimated $100 worth of grapes over the lifetime of the plant. You're basically stealing that money from us!"
This could change from day to day (e.g. fruits, veggies), vary based on quantity ordered, etc.
Then you get into private label (store brand) products, where the "cost" was usually either $0 or some ridiculously low number.
This was a national chain. At the store level at least, we wouldn't have been able to find the value of an item "at cost" with any confidence.
Most large stores take out nearly everything off the shelves at night even if it's still within it's "use before" date which on it's own is utterly nonsensical to begin with as most items don't expire for days, if not weeks, months and even years from the "use/best before" date.
People drop stuff, people mishandle goods, how many people squeeze a vegetable or a fruit to check if it's ripe damaging it? how many apples get a mushy spot because they banged around in the crate?
You are literally scraping the bottom of the barrel of inventory attrition when you are talking about perishable misplaced items, compared to everything else they are a rounding error.
There is a lot of loss baked into every supply chain, unless you are going to change it in it's entirety really don't bother with the end, the loss at the point of sale is minimal compared to everything else.
Funny; want to know how Amazon CS became so popular with people? They gave complainers what they wanted, and only shut down repeat abusers. You want to exchange or return this TV for no reason at all? Go ahead. You bought this a year ago and want to return it now? Get a rep on the phone and it's done.
It was fascinating to watch from the inside. CS reps became easier to hire (no need for independent thought when 95% of the calls can be answered with binary flags determined by a "follow the prompts" wizard), Amazon's CS approval rating skyrocketed, and they're still making money to this day.
So, yeah, they have proven that there is a really good reason to keep all but the most abusive individual customers.
Seems like the maximized value could be somewhere in the middle, maybe without trying to sneak in replacement costs for items left on other shelves..
That would be fine in the ages before social media. Now everyone "takes to twitter" and tries to organize a social pitchfork campaign. The victimhood mentality is real. People get off on the celebrity from being wronged by a big bad corporation. It wouldn't be long before some jerk posts a video of himself leaving a roast on the cereal aisle and being '86'ed from the store, then post it straight to Youtube for all the delicious karma points. Corporate image is a big deal.
I will admit this strategy won't work for everyone. Most corporations are not willing to respond to a complaint by using social media to (accurately) call the complainer an obnoxious asshole.
Maybe this is different, but my experience with recent tech innovations in brick-and-mortar payment systems haven't been positive overall. More trouble than they're worth.
This could very well be different, but the minute the store starts valuing the AI over the customer, I think the store is in for some trouble public relations-wise.
If someone buys 45 items, but 3 dont ring up, as long as the 3 were relatively cheap items like a can of beans, as opposed to a $15 jar of spices, does it really matter ? Over time, the system will learn which items "go missing" most often and focus on them specifically for better inventory mgmt.
That'd constitute a massive retooling of consumer behavior and logic and would require quite a bit of conditioning over many years, no?
One or more hits to the wallet would be strong negative reinforcement.
One could simply retrain the customer by literally charging them the moment they take it off the shelf, refunding them if they put it back. It would look crazy on your bank/credit bill but i think a legion of micropayments maybe the future anyways. There might be an opportunity there to turn a stream of 100s of micropayments into meaningful data for the end user.
But what about this: What is to stop someone from pulling items out of other people carts?
It might be legal federally, and in red states, but this sounds like a class action lawsuit in a liberal state with strong consumer protection laws just waiting for hungry lawyers.
An option is to label all the items with a unique identifier, but that is typically seen as too costly, which is also the reason Amazon hasn't fully fixed the FBA counterfeit problem.
Decathlon, the world largest sport goods retailer already use that technology.
They still have checkout lines but technically speaking they would be able to charge you when you leave the store.
Last time I spoke with them they were using Embisphere hardware, but any vendor, Checkpoint for instance, could be used to similar effects.
If all products are rfid tagged (which is entirely possible given the current price of metallic ink) then this store is at most state of the art.
If they actually use vision techniques then it is actually quite a feat. Current vision techniques used in retail are either too crude (when based on the store cctv cameras) or too costly (another French company, IVS, has demonstrated a self service buffet style automated checkout but AFAIK it is still prototype).
Disclaimer: I have links with investors in both Embisphere and IVS.
What sort of prices are you seeing?
I have reasons to believe several ink manufacturers/printers are working on an order of magnitude less per tag.
But are you so sure that 10 cents is too much?
What do you think the gross margin on that can is ? ;-)
What do you think the net margin on that can, once the checkout lines (and their personnel) are removed, would be?
If a stitched RFID chip on a 2€ thsirt is currently cost-effective for Decathlon, I see no reason why printed RFID tags would not be cost effective in the very near future, if it is not yet the case (and once again, I have reasons to believe it is almost already the case).
However, I don't think that end game is the first use case for an RFID solution - inventory monitoring/LP/loyalty can demonstrate ROI long before the checkout lines are removed. For those use cases, the unit price needs to be much cheaper, but an order of magnitude improvement might be right.
I have skin in the game on the loyalty part so I will abstain from speaking on that.
Coming back on your thoughts about inventory, the birth of Embisphere, the RFID company I spoke about earlier (and the reason why Decathlon started to use them), was solely the invention of a "racket" for fast instore inventory
Other uses (checkout, LP) were almost an afterthought. The sole gain on speed and accuracy of in-store inventory was enough to decide Decathlon to add RFID chips on all its inventory and Decathlon inventory is massive ! They are in the range of 30-70k active SKUs, with sometimes hundreds of thousands units of stock. Sell that in hundreds of stores worldwide, add the warehouses in every country and the manufacturing facilities in China, and you end up with millions of euros of investment just for that damn inventory ;-)
It would be lovely if you developed an in-store navigation capability. It's so frustrating to run into a store to pickup something, and not be able to immediately find it.
The results of periodic scans should provide a decent point cloud that could be used to determine shelf/aisle geometry without a blueprint. Foursquare uses this sort of approach for its interior mapping process, but they can't tell me where to find the bean dip. There are multiple obvious ways to monetize that dataset including simply selling it to Foursquare.
In-store location of products is deeply linked with very complicated discussions between retailers and product manufacturers.
Moreover, facing is a very strategic part of retail and I doubt retailers would be happy to release their facing strategies to outsiders or competitors.
Even inside a retailer's organization, several opposing views exist, between maximizing breadth of product range, giving prime exposure to the private label, etc....the equation they have to solve is very complicated and I don't think there's an ideal solution to this. A retailer facing strategy is linked to its core values. It has a direct impact on its bottom line and an indirect one: the consumer's unconscious perception of facing "strategies" is probably very significant.
You start doing stuff like that it will bite you back 10x.
It doesn't mean every stupid thing the customer does is right.
This adage only works when marginal value of a customer is high, and monetary preferences aren't utterly dominating customer's thought process. Business dealing with necessities, or ones where demand outweights supply, aren't like that - that's why in a grocery store, customer is trash. There's plenty more where he/she came from.
The customers tend to be brand loyal, and the lifetime value of a customer is very high (family with 2.4 kids and a dog is minimum $10k/year in gross sales), so when you start banishing customers for doing things that they may not even realize that they did, they will loudly tell everyone they know what a bunch of assholes you are! The $25 roast will cost you $500.
If I stop shopping at a local grocery that uses a loyalty card for two weeks, they will immediately begin sending coupons worth 10-20% of my average transaction value to get me back. The ROI of giving away $20 at a pretty low margin implies a high value.
Now my experience is of course limited to shops in urban Europe, servicing low- and middle-income populations. Maybe high-income people can afford to vote with their wallets, but with all the people I know, the ability to save $100+ / month by just going to the cheaper store of the few nearby is enough to make them not mind grumpy cashiers.
> they will loudly tell everyone they know what a bunch of assholes you are!
I have never in my entire life seen this behaviour impact a single company. Even though I'm first to badmouth asshole businesses and praise the nice ones. Even in tech, I'm yet to see a single company seriously impacted by people's reaction to bad behaviour. I mean, how is Uber still around? Or how is Lenovo still selling laptops?
If the incentive is reducing the chances of being charged by the system for an item they didn't buy, you bet people will put stuff back where they found it.
Like I heard from HEB Central Market employee, that they had a hard time with their bulk self-portion coffee beans, where the price range is quite large yet the beans look pretty identical.
Like most bigger shops, I think amazon will just tolerate the loss without enforcing it too much, if it stays manageable and under enforcement costs, which includes a too negative impact on the general shopping experience.
What about the presence of self checkouts makes theft more likely?
But I'd also have been more impressed with the video if they showed stressed-out parents with crying kids and their hands full as they've got their cell phones tucked between their heads and shoulders, rather than young people quietly grabbing a single item and leaving.
This can actually HELP with those problems because a lot of those problems happen while in a line. Maybe they expect their customers to be like the ones in this video, but certainly my store was a little more chaotic. They should design for that chaos -- and maybe they did, but the video doesn't show it, is all. Presumably because they wanted to stress how easy it was, but to me that comes off as alien to the real world, based on my experience.
It's an 1,800 square foot convenience store in a yuppie area stocked with what appears Whole Foods like take and go food, not a Wal Mart Supercenter. It will be quite a bit different if they open a large store out in the suburbs.
you must assume you're users will do whacky things and they will have no idea how the system works.
From my first quick take of the video, the app+turnstyle is used to identify you to the store. The video system then tracks your position as you walk around.
When you walk out, the items are recognized and tallied by a large RFID sweep. Funneling you back out through a turnstyle makes sure the vision system knows it's you. Notice that you don't need to barcode yourself on the way out, and the exit system is phone agnostic (it's not checking for an NFC or Apple Pay tag or anything).
The whole "tracking individual items as they come on and off the shelves" task is a very complex thing. But tracking bodies as they walk around a 1,500 square foot room isn't that hard.
What is really needed is a way to talk to multiple RFID tags quickly without any crosstalk. Think of a handbag with a dozen candy bars in it. How do you scan them all quickly without missing any?
The goal has always been to scan something large in one pass, say a shrink-wrapped pallet of items that could number in the hundreds or thousands. Obviously this is technology that Amazon could benefit from as well, I wouldn't be surprised if there's a lot of technology overlap here.
Most RAIN Rfid readers have a read rate of 800+ tags/second. Door portals are a solved solution and now phased arrays are on the market which scan all items in realtime. Take a look at the impinj marketing material for more information. For example the RS2000 chip: http://www.impinj.com/products/reader-chips/indy-rs2000/
But the video clearly shows the items being recognized as someone takes them from a shelf (and puts them back). The items don't need to be recognized at the time you walk out, the store just needs to know that you've walked out.
I think that's just visually giving you an idea of what's happening. Like I said earlier, I'm giving a simple naive presentation of how the system might work. Or, at the least, how I would design it without dealing with finicky shelf sensors. Ask anyone that has ever worked in a hotel with in-room minibars how well those things pan out in real life.
Unless that store is just a mockup and not how it really looks and works, I see nothing on those shelves or in the sky above it that is watching you put that cupcake back on the shelf.
The real way to find out is if someone in the demo video can pull their phone out of their pocket mid-trip and see their current inventory and total price. But I didn't see that in the video.
The girl in the video at 1:26 looks at her list and total, but after she's been through the exit turnstyle.
The video makes it look like it's constantly up to date, but that sounds quite complicated (despite dropping the ML, DL buzz words).
A friend at Amazon said he tried to trick it by taking two items at a time and it got it right every time, so yeah it does appear to track when you take the items.
In essence, RFID tag technology already exists, and there's a reason why it hasn't taken off in grocery stores.
That's already handled in grocery -- people can mess with regular barcodes if they want. it's a known cost of business
BUT what if their goal isn't to make razor thin margins at grocery stores, but to test out their tech on human tracking. You've got to believe that they have a more long term plan than making a better self-checkout.
They can now tie in your Amazon Go app with you as a person. Most likely all the sensors and cameras in the store will be both tracking you via your app with Bluetooth, but also perhaps body heat sensors and the like that track you based on your unique body pattern.
Then they can tie this in with your Amazon Prime account to better improve recommended purchases to you, they can tie this in with your Prime Now account and your home address and more immediate delivery needs. Drones, Kindle, Echo as well.
The goal is deeper analytics and tracking on individual humans. That's how Facebook makes their money, and Amazon can perhaps have deeper data on individuals than any other company tracking browser cookies.
Using these as EAN barcode replacement also has the problem that the system can't tell if you bought the product from Amazon GO or if you just happen to be carrying it with you when you enter the store.
Maybe you could use it to make some guesses about a person. An older guy buying frozen dinners, beer, and not much else is probably single or divorced. A woman buying prenatal vitamins is probably pregnant. Someone buying both Special K and Fruit Loops might have a family. But someone can already make these determinations from using their eyes. RFIDs might make it a bit easier but don't really add any new infosec facet to this grocery store experience.
The problem with electronic surveillance is never the surveillance part. It's the part where we can surveil billions of people at once without the need for billions of spies.
I don't think that's actually what Amazon Go is doing though.
I am sure that amazon/walmart/tesco/whoever will need more than 1000 at a time and so obviously get a larger discount. Probably down to well under a penny or two - starts to make a lot of sense when you factor in the other benefits (lower staff, easier stock-tracking/taking etc)
So, it would require a $10 item to break even on a €0.10 tag.
Basically if Savings from reducing sales persons > Cost of New Technology, you'll add the new tech.
The number of people that never learned "put stuff back where you got it" from their parents is astounding.
It's incorrect and misleading to talk like that malicious use case is the only one at play here.
The moment you start kicking people out over subjective "rule-violations", you are eating into your own profits, pissing off people, and projecting your own morality onto strangers. Aunt Minny may have set down that roast because it hurts her hip to walk across the store, and she realizes she already bought a roast yesterday. But over the last 10 years she's spent $25,000 shopping there. Some guy with Crohn's disease may literally shit on your floor if he doesn't drop his perishable item and run home/to the rest room. If both of those people are regular shoppers, sure the lost perishable item eats into your bottom line, but in the long run you are making a profit off them.
Waging an unnecessary morality war can only impede your ability to run a profitable business.
Edit: why not just give employees handheld IR thermometers, and if the temperature of the product is < $MEAT_MAX or $VEGGIE_MAX degrees then allow them to restock it.
That's accurate. Ask me how many times I wish I could find the guy that carelessly tossed a cart out in the parking lot (given easily accessible corrals) which subsequently bashed into the side of my car. Or found a packet of hamburger (with accompanying drippy juices) in with the toys. Or...
The moment you start kicking people out over subjective "rule-violations", you are eating into your own profits, pissing off people, and projecting your own morality onto strangers.
Leaving aside the misuse of the word subjective, this is why we avoid the "kicking out" part altogether and use financial incentives instead. It's no different than, say, ALDI charging you a quarter to get a cart (that you get back if, and only if, you put the cart away). Put stuff back where you found it like a civilized person, and there's never a problem.
I find it really annoying when people put words into somebody's mouth.
Misplaced perishable goods are certainly a problem, but not the one they're discussing right now.
Perishable goods are a subclass of goods in a store, are they not?
There are all kinds of reasons why that is unreasonable:
* different stores might have systems with different rules and policies, causing confusion;
* people may not remember where to return the item;
* the magic machine-learning system might glitch and not recognize the item was replaced, and you probably won't notice since there's little feedback from the "virtual cart" since you're not interacting with it directly;
* another glitch could put another customer's item in your "virtual cart", so you have nothing to return;
Systems like this should fail in customer-friendly ways, and "item returned to the wrong place" is a kind of failure.
Because that's the store's policy. If you don't like it, nobody is forcing you to shop there.
We don't know the details yet but RFID may solve this issue completely.
Perhaps this could be similar, but instead of printing the barcode, it automatically adds the item to your Amazon cart.
To this day (20-odd years later), I always put grocery items back where I found them (and bag my own groceries). Don't be a dick.
I'm not that thrilled, somehow I'm not in love with todays tech and progress (that's on me). Moreover I wonder what people living on cashier jobs (it's an easy target for unqualified and hurried people) will feel.
I was for the test but I find the self checkout annoying. It's less efficient than the usual kind. You have less space to unload you stuff; less space to rebag them, and the cashier is lighting fast at scanning and grabbing the money because of 7h/day of doing so. I'm not pro human cashier, I don't think lots of cashier really like it either. But self checkout is not as good as I thought.
Self-checkout works well for half a dozen items in a hand basket. If you have a trolley full of a week's shopping, you're going to use a cashier. In fact, in this supermarket, you can't even get a trolley into the self-checkout area.
My local M&S store has three different checkout areas. (1) traditional, for people with trolleys. (2) Self-checkout area for people with baskets. (3) Really fast (but very narrow) lane for people just holding a few items in their hands. You almost never see people using the "wrong" area.
What's interesting is that I usually pick the one with the longest queue, ie line 3. The cashiers are really fast so you don't have to wait long.
One other factor is that a lot of us in line 3 are using contactless (Wave & Pay) cards, so the payment process doesn't slow things down. People who don't usually use the waiting time to get their cash ready.
I've not seen anyone so far suggest that people will still work at the store. There will still be people who help customers do what they need, but instead of mindlessly scanning groceries, they'll be there for the things people actually need help with. Returns, price problems, finding things, lifting heavy items, etc.
If I understand well, in Amazon Go, every customer has an account linked to a credit card. I guess that this will work as a deterrent. I a customer does something wrong, they can get a warning. Next time, the account is canceled. Problem solved.
You can't charge your customer for an item they didn't buy. Trying to make the computer "dumb" doesn't change this. You're going to get angry customers on twitter, chargebacks, and possibly sued.
You would be surprised how many EBT/WIC folks have smart phones since they are often part of educational plans and back-to-work initiatives. It was often easier to order product off Amazon than locally (gift cards, debit cards).
* How does my Amazon account get associated with the items I take?
* How are items detected when leaving the store? If my friend and I walk out side by side, how does it know (if it does) which items are mine and which are hers?
* What happens when someone picks up an item and leaves without first doing whatever check-in/registration/setup is necessary?
>If my friend and I walk out side by side, how does it know (if it does) which items are mine and which are hers?
Looks like the entry/exit is the same type of set-up you find at most large office buildings with the tap in/out gates (see screenshot: http://i.imgur.com/e7fDglY.jpg). I assume it only lets one person out at a time which also suggests your friend could only enter the store if they had an amazon go account and tapped in themselves.
>What happens when someone picks up an item and leaves without first doing whatever check-in/registration/setup is necessary?
Again, based on those gates, I'd assume you can't actually access the store without going through the necessary set-up first.
Personally, I'd like to know what happens if/when my phone battery dies in-store.
I'm guessing the Amazon Go app generates a one-time-use QR code that gets scanned on entry and then security/tracking cameras follow you all over the store. If the cameras see you in front of an item when its RFID sensor detects it was picked up, they make an educated guess that you picked it up. Then they can re-scan all the RFIDs as you exit for extra confirmation.
It looks like they have a row of cameras along the top of each shelf that will be used to detect when you pick up and place items back down.
The RFID tags are mostly useful at the gates to confirm the visual data and feed back into the machine learning algorithm.
If one day all the stores are like this, I guess you may argue I can still grow my own food, and everything is fine.
By "personal data", if you mean the video footage of your shopping, then it will probably be deleted after a few days/weeks. It will just be used to train (reinforce) the machine learning model, and will be discarded eventually. But your shopping history will always be there, as it is now in online shopping sites...
I wonder, when did the obvious way you use sensors become a buzzword?
For example (not saying this is how it actually works): "Scanning your phone when you enter lets us know who you are. Then, our advanced vision tracking system follows you around the store and lets us see what you're choosing. Finally, scanners in our turnstiles verify your purchases as you're leaving the store."
I'd assume trying to forcibly enter the store without registration will set off an alarm. I can't wait to show up with 15 of my friends and run amok in the store - it'll present an interesting legal experiment (unless they just get us for trespassing).
Sensor fusion? You mean multiple sensors?
And while shoplifting is a legitimate threat, are non-shoplifters going to be turned into shoplifters without a checkout? Are normal shoplifters stopped by checkouts? These are the core questions, and until it is tested nobody will know for sure.
Target is getting awfully close to this. With their Cartwheel app you're meant to scan all your items as you shop (so it auto-applies coupons and discounts); but they haven't taken it to the next logical step and allowed you to provide your Cartwheel output at the checkout for checking out.
I will say that the way Target has implemented smartphone barcode scanning makes me think that there might be a future in all this. It is extremely painless, they just need to stop kicking you out of the scan screen when it finds a discount (i.e. it doesn't kick you out if no discount is found, but does when a discount IS found, that's problematic for efficiency reasons).
There's a random chance that your scanner will be audited by a human against the contents of your shopping cart. Usually the first time you use it, then it backs off.
edit: Safeway was first, in 1997
The Camden store illustrates the progress Safeway has made in other directions too. As part of its customer friendliness, Safeway was the first of the major food multiples to introduce self-scanning, the system it calls Shop & Go.
However, once I reached the exit where the man was inspecting receipts, things screeched to a halt. I showed him the bar code on my phone, and he looked at it, exclaiming, "Oh no, Scan and Go. You used Scan and Go."
He then turned to find a powered-off scanning device that he couldn't get to start up, as he muttered, "I wish they'd never started that."
I replied, "As a customer, I love it."
He had to call over a manager, who used her scanner to scan my barcode, blindly scroll through my purchased items list to get to the green button, and declared me good to go.
Meanwhile, I had held up all the people trying to exit behind me. It was still faster than checking out, but hopefully they get proper training for their employees implemented.
However, the number of employees working at the cash register is still the same because those scanners sometimes do not work and most importantly their user experience is deplorable. So, you frequently have to ask someone for help (and I'm in my mid-thirties and very tech-savvy. I can only imagine how someone twice my age would feel when using these scanners).
Actually the ratio of staff:active-self-checkout machines is planned to reduce in each new deployment as customers become accustomed to the machines. Starts around 1:2 and usually sits around 1:4 with a target of 1:8 or even 1:12 at quiet times.
That's definitely a reduction in cashiers since the machines displace existing check-out lines & registers.
Source: an acquaintance is a manager in a Tesco Superstore.
The machines are good enough now that I almost never get stuck, although some people are a lot more prone to needing staff assistance to complete checkout.
I was using one of these just this morning: got all my shopping onto the scale/shelf and was getting ready to pay. The machine asks how many 5p bags I used. So I start packing the stuff into my backpack to find out whether I need a bag. The machine pipes up: "Did you remove something from the scale?" The screen has a full screen modal warning that I have to put the shopping back.
I put the things back on the scale and guess that I won't need a bag and I pay using contactless but what if my shopping won't fit in my bag?
I understand why we have to "pack" things onto a scale (it makes it much harder to take things without scanning them) but it has to trust you at some point.
Other than that I really like self-checkouts, usually much quicker and they're excellent for coin disposal (dump all your coins in it and pay the rest by card).
Are UK banks giving these out? I've never come across them before.
What worse shortly after some stores in London got those there was less cashiers working at eventide. So you had to choose between unpleasant expirience or long queue.
I must be really suspicious-looking because I've been subjected to a "random audit" all 5 times I used it. Gave up because with a weekly shop it's quicker to go to an actual checkout than having someone scan all of my items again.
The idea's good, but my experience of the execution has been bad.
They still have the mobile / MC70 version rolled out to the entire chain now, it's very successful from what I hear.
My mother makes uses of it every week and gloats that we don't have the tech available here in Boulder (a tech hub).
It's usually one of two things: a purchase that must be approved (either alcohol or some medicine) or scanning the single item barcode of a multi-item
I have given up on bagging as I check out. It goes crazy every time I open a bag and set it in the bagging area. So now I just pile up my groceries and bag them when I'm done, which wastes everyone's time.
This. Trying to do the following
a) Open one of the cellophane bags that are stuck closely together
b) Put the product I just scanned in it
c) Take my hand away so it reads the weight correctly
...are way too difficult for me to do without the machine locking up and saying "okay, assistance required, let's hold you up until the overworked 1 person for 12 checkout machines gets here". So I do the same thing you do, just throw them in the checkout area and bag later.
It wastes everyone's time, but sometimes allows me to bag more efficiently and use fewer plastic bags.
This is awesome, as it's incredibly time-saving. At Woolworths I generally have to look like a doofus holding my next item to scan in front of the scanner for at least 2 seconds while the machine is frozen as it slowly weight-checks the item I just bagged...
At Coles the bottleneck is the speed at which I can bag things. Usually I just cram as many things into one bag as possible (I always repack later) and checking out takes under a minute.
NB: The Coles where I live is toward the back of the mall and reasonably far away from the center's exits. I think this has had an impact on the number of items that go walkies, which is why they were able to disable it. (The Woolworths on the other hand is practically outside - leaving there is like going through airport security, they physically rummage through your bags!)
That stupid scale isn't going to stop any shoplifter, but it does inconvenience me every time.
EDIt - Grammar.
I even catch myself doing it. If you are smart you can notice the error, take it out of the bag and rescan and the machine will keep going.
Most people just freeze and wait for help.
If you say that the scale does find honest mistakes (which I doubt, I think you just have dumb shoplifters) and I say the scales are strictly harmful to user experience then it seems these things must have a bad UI until some advance comes along.
For me: When I am doing my weekly food shopping, I just use plastic. When I am grabbing something I forgot or picking up beer or something during the week, I just leave everything in the area, pay, and then bag with my reusables after the fact.
These days I only need human interaction when I buy booze, and that consists of a cashier eyeballing me and approving it.
If you're shopping for a single item, scanning it and dropping it in the bagging area is sufficient to start the flow, then simply wait a second, click finish, then tap your contactless card is all required to complete a transaction, can be done in under 5 seconds
The Sainsbury's near me have started to go contactless as well, and it's great.
I used to work in a grocery store many years ago though, so it's possible that I have some skills kicking around in my brain that make it easier for me to use them.
I've had nothing but trouble with the self-checkouts I've used in the UK. I'm quite slow and methodical about it, but the machines always manage to inexplicably fuck up halfway through.
I know a lot about the various retail companies and how effective they are with technology. Anyone that thinks Target is going to do anything effective in this space doesn't understand how god-awful their entire logistics/supply chain is. It's legendarily bad.
Amazon is another story. And this particular technology is something that can destroy Walmart, eventually. I'll be watching this very closely, because if I see enough headway being made I'll be selling my house before the disaster hits the market there.
Honestly though, groceries and CPG are HARD. I suspect that Amazon has simply thought about cost-savings from having minimal staffing in a store and used it to justify the insane capital costs of an RFID tag on every item and the scanners/camera/compute needed to operate the Go store.
What's always so funny to me is how the millennial generation in general has a hugely negative view of Walmart for paying poorly and destroying small businesses, while having a positive view of Amazon. In this case, Amazon will continue to do what it's been doing (destroying businesses) while paying nothing, because it's automating away a huge segment of work. I'm not saying this is a bad thing, but it's definitely going to happen, and like self-driving vehicles, this is going to disrupt society big time.
The difference is that while both may offer low prices while destroying small businesses, the customer experience on Amazon is great while the customer experience at Walmart sucks.
It's a nice innovation, but it does almost nothing with regards to competing on price with Walmart. And with the self checkouts, checking out isn't even that big of a deal. So i don't see how it's going to affect Walmart.
You'll be arrested before having picked up a single item.
Tesco in the UK is already doing that. You just finish your shopping by scanning an "end of shopping" barcode, you pay and then you go with your trolley. You sometimes need someone to remove the security tags or check that you're 18+ for alcohol but that's it.
However, home delivery is even better in my opinion, it's very common in the UK nowadays. You see those vans everywhere, from nearly all big supermarkets.
And I'm no shoplifter, never done that, I just tinker with stuff all the time. It's a kind of occupational psychosis. Same with lockpicks.
One could respond that you can never truly shop lift if you follow the rules.
First, you have to check in when you enter. Second, they tell you to grab and go.
As long as you don't try to be malicious about it, then it's on Amazon to figure out what to charge you for. If they fail to see something, that's on them.
Of course, all the really pricey stuff like watches, phones, and computers is kept in a back room.
Better make sure to carefully balance the samples in your training set to avoid confounding variables though, or else your AI is going to get quite racist and sexist very quickly.
It worked pretty well, but from what I heard the shoplifting rate was a lot higher than the comfort level of the store's executives. There really is no way to check that you've scanned every single thing in a large cart full of goods. They experimented with things like random checks from cashiers, but that just added to the labor and confusion. The project was scrapped a year or two later.
RFID could fix that if we're really close to being able to scan a whole cart full of goods in one sweep (which the Amazon project seems to imply). But then you have an issue where every single vendor to your store needs to be inserting compatible tags into the packaging. That adds cost and logistics.
I remember seeing this working when I was in university . They just couldn't focus on supermarkets because the tags were too expensive (10-15 cents per tag).
If that's the problem, couldn't these companies just test it? I mean, even if all the items in the single pilot store were stolen, would it really be such a big cost for Wallmart R&D department to have exact empiric knowledge as opposed to "perceived threat"?
My first thought was: wow, and they made it much harder to shoplift. In a regular store you can just tuck an item in your jacket. With this tech, they know when the item left the shelf, that you were standing there, and that it left the store with you.
Sure, it's hackable. Everything is hackable. But this actually seems like an anti-shoplifting measure to me.
Heck, I could imagine them installing this system in a normally staffed store just to detect shoplifting!