A couple years ago Amazon's checkout-free Go store made worldwide headlines and ushered in a new shopping concept. Now, as was inevitable, there are signs that checkout-free technology is proliferating and will soon be a reality in a location near you.
The latest example comes to us by way of the University of Houston, where an on-campus convenience store will become the first retrofitted, completely touchless and cashierless retail experience.
The emphasis on the word retrofitted is important here. Amazon Go stores were build from the ground up to interact atop a touchless infrastructure. But for the concept to proliferate quickly, existing stores will need to be retrofitted with the same technologies without undergoing a major overhaul. Amazon is selling its Go technology to other retailers, but there are other companies competing in the same market. The company behind the University of Houston store, Standard, thinks that's where it will carve out a major customer base for itself.
"Market Next is the first retail store in the world to be retrofitted for a 100 percent cashierless, checkout-free experience," said Jordan Fisher, Co-Founder and CEO of Standard. "Our platform is the only system on the market proven to retrofit an entire retail experience. Innovative retailers like Chartwells use the AI-powered Standard platform to enable shoppers to grab any product they want and simply walk out, without waiting in line. We are excited to partner with Chartwells to deliver this groundbreaking technology to more locations around the country."
Standard was early out of the gate in the autonomous checkout space. It was the first to open a cashierless store in San Francisco and was named "One of The World's 50 Most Innovative Companies" by Fast Company. The company has raised $86M in funding.
The use of a college campus mirrors other early adopter campaigns in the automation space. Notably, autonomous delivery company Starship has used the contained incubator of college campuses to proof its technology, including at the University of Houston, which is proving itself an eager adopter of new tech. To complete the convenience store retrofit, Standard teamed up with dining services provider Chartwells Higher Education.
"Students' tastes change constantly, and we're well equipped to handle that. But their shopping preferences evolve too, and we want to continue providing new and unique shopping experiences that are unexpected on a college campus," said David Riddle, Vice President of Operations for Chartwells Higher Ed, District Manager for UH Systems Dining. "This is the future of shopping, and with autonomous checkout through Standard, we've made it as easy, safe and convenient as possible for students to come in, get what they need, and go."
It's a safe bet both robot delivery and cashierless checkout will migrate beyond campuses to become part of everyday life before long.