Shoppers may have largely deserted brick and mortar stores during covid lockdowns, but vaccinated consumers returning to stores in the coming months may encounter new technology rollouts, such as the launch this week of an automated, walk-through convenience store at Dallas Love Field Airport.
Enabled by Amazon’s “Just Walk Out” technology, the “Hudson Nonstop” store is the first of its kind for the East Rutherford, New Jersey-based retail chain Hudson, which operates more than 1,000 stores in airports, commuter hubs, landmarks, and tourist destinations across North America.
Shoppers enter the store using a credit card, then the technology suite detects which products they take from or return to the shelves and track them in a virtual cart, Amazon said. When done shopping, consumers simply walk out of the store and their credit card is instantly charged for the items in their virtual cart.
According to Amazon, the system is designed to eliminate checkout lines, support a contactless shopping experience, and free up store employees to work on more valuable activities than operating cash registers. For example, stores could still employ workers to greet shoppers, answer their questions, stock shelves, or check identification cards for the purchase of certain goods.
The technology is not unique; competing firms have also been developing cashierless platforms in recent years, including entrants like Keyo, Grabango, Standard Cognition, Aifi, Zippin, and Trigo. But Amazon’s colossal business leverage and vast research and development budget make direct comparisons difficult.
Seattle-based Amazon says it developed this “Just Walk Out” platform for its own brick and mortar “Amazon Go” stores but began marketing it to other retailers in 2020. The company provides all the necessary technologies to enable checkout-free shopping in any retailer's store, based on the same types of technologies used in self-driving cars: computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning.
Hudson’s installation of the technology is located in a 500-square-foot store in the post-security zone near Gate 10, and has been operating since February 22, the company said.
“The opening of our first Hudson Nonstop store is a significant milestone in delivering on Hudson’s vision for accelerated digital innovation in-store and overall digital transformation across the business,” Brian Quinn, Hudson’s executive vice president and COO, said in a release. “Hudson Nonstop represents a new way of retailing that emulates an end-to-end digital shopping experience which we believe is the future of retail, even after Covid-19 – we look forward to serving travelers in this exciting new store concept for years to come.”