He’s not just making an anxious sales pitch, he’s actually explaining how to use the store. Watasale is a fully-automated, cashier-free shop, inspired by Amazon Go stores in the US, where you can just pick up an item and walk out with it, and the cost is debited from your e-wallet. No, the security alarms won’t go off.
The 500sq ft store that opened this week depends on artificial intelligence, camera technology and sensors. A customer has to download the Watasale app on his or her phone and register using an email ID and phone number, explains Subhash S, Watasale’s CEO. The app provides a QR code that works as an identifier as well as a ‘ticket’ into the store. A customer has to scan the code and enter the store.
“A customer can walk in, pick products and leave. They don’t have to scan every product – just the QR code once at the entrance,” Subhash says. The app debits the bill amount automatically from the customer’s account or wallet. No cashier, no scanning, and no waiting in line.
The store ceiling and shelves are laced with sophisticated sensors and closed circuit cameras. “The system monitors your every movement. It records what product you have taken and what you have put back on the rack. This store is more advanced than other cashier-less stores where customers scan the products themselves,” says Malamal.
Globally, check-out free shops are gaining traction. Two years ago, a Chinese startup BingoBox launched cashier-less stores and currently has more than 300 shops across 30 cities in China. Almost a year ago, HyperCity opened two cashierless stores in the Infosys campus at Hyderabad, which were powered by a Bengaluru-based startup.
Amazon Go already has three stores in the US and announced the opening of its New York one recently. These stores use technology to gather biometric information, including height, weight and purchase history of the customer.
Watasale currently stocks 180 products. “We won’t increase this as we don’t want the store to be cramped. We might offer more products in our new shops in other towns,” Malamal says. Watasale plans to expand to Bengaluru and Delhi soon. “Within three months, we plan to open a store in Bengaluru, followed by one in Delhi,” Malamal says.
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