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Ecommerce

Microsoft works on checkout free retail technology

Thursday 14 June 2018 | 01:31 PM CET

Reuters: Microsoft is working on technology that would eliminate cashiers and checkout lines from stores.

The big tech company is developing systems that track what shoppers add to their carts, sources say. Microsoft has shown sample technology to retailers from around the world and has had talks with Walmart about a potential collaboration, three of the people said.

Microsoft’s technology aims to help retailers keep pace with Amazon Go, a highly automated store that opened to the public in Seattle in January 2018. Amazon customers scan their smartphones at a turnstile to enter. Cameras and sensors identify what they remove from the shelves. When customers are finished shopping, they simply leave the store and Amazon bills their credit cards on file.

For Microsoft, becoming a strategic ally to retailers has meant big business. In addition to developing retail technologies, it ranks second behind Amazon in selling cloud services that are instrumental for running ecommerce websites. 

It is 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 technology as the next big innovation in shopping, one that Amazon’s competitors cannot afford to ignore.

“This is the future of checking out for convenience and grocery stores,” said Gene Munster, head of research at Loup Ventures in Minneapolis. The venture capital firm estimates the U.S. market for automated checkout is worth USD 50 billion. Cashier is one of the most commonly held jobs in the United States.

Microsoft said it “does not comment on rumours or speculation.” Walmart and Amazon declined to comment.

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