Report: Microsoft Working on Technology to Eliminate Cashiers, Checkout Lines in Stores
Microsoft is reportedly working on technology that would eliminate cashiers and checkout lines from stores, six people familiar with the matter told Reuters this week. More specifically, the software giant is developing a system that tracks what shoppers add to their carts. Reportedly, Microsoft has shown sample technology to several global retailers and has had talks with Walmart about a potential collaboration. Microsoft's technology is aimed squarely at Amazon Go, the highly automated store that Amazon.com opened to the public in Seattle this past January. Amazon Go customers scan their smartphones at a turnstile to enter. Cameras and sensors then identify what they remove from the shelves. When customers are finished shopping, they leave the store and Amazon bills their credit cards on file. Amazon will soon open additional Amazon Go stores in Chicago and San Francisco.
Total Retail's Take: It's not clear how soon Microsoft would bring an automated checkout service to market, if at all, or whether its technology would be the answer retailers are looking for. But some see the cashier-less technology as the next big innovation in shopping, and one that Amazon's competitors cannot afford to ignore.
Michael Jaszczyk, CEO of retail software solutions provider GK Software USA , told Total Retail that Microsoft taking on Amazon with cashier-less checkout "demonstrates how close we are to a breakout of alternative ‘checkout and scanning’ processes and applications. We’re beginning to see more and more companies like Microsoft react to Amazon’s lead, all working to implement this type of technology. The question now is not if, but when we will see wide range adoption in the market."
As more vendors offer these types of self-scanning solutions and retailers pilot them in their stores, Jaszczyk believes "consumer demand will follow as well as increased store revenue. I believe that in three years to five years, traditional checkout lanes will become somewhat of a relic and we will have a hard time remembering what it was even like to stand in line at the POS.”
Melissa Campanelli is Editor-in-Chief of Total Retail. She is an industry veteran, having covered all aspects of retail, tech, digital, e-commerce, and marketing over the past 20 years. Melissa is also the co-founder of the Women in Retail Leadership Circle.