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Tech Crunch reports on a company called AiFi, which is “emerging from stealth … to announce the availability of its own checkout-free solution for retailers. But unlike Amazon Go, AiFi claims its A.I., sensor and camera network-based system can scale from a small mom-and-pop all the way up to a big retailer with tens of thousands of square feet and a hundred thousand products.”

Some salient excerpts from the story:

• “Similar to Amazon, AiFi’s system involves cameras, sensors and A.I. technology to identify what shoppers grab from the store’s shelves. Also like Amazon’s Go store, shoppers will have to use a companion smartphone app, where their payment information is stored.”

• “AiFi is designed to scale – it can support tracking up to 500 people, and tens of thousands of SKU item numbers.”

• “Later this year, the company will launch a demo store in the San Francisco Bay area, as well as a pilot store with a larger grocer in New York to prove out these claims. In addition to monitoring the products – AiFi monitors the people, too. That is, it can track shoppers’ behavior in the store, including things like if they’re shopping in groups, what items they’re picking up and putting back, their gait, their body poses, where they go in the store, and even identify if they’re doing something abnormal, like shoplifting.”
KC's View:
I’m really looking forward to talking to Tom Furphy about this in next week’s Innovation Conversation.

Two things occur to me. One is that maybe Amazon doesn’t have the big a head start on this kind of stuff that I would’ve thought.

And second, it is critical for retailers to embrace and test this kind of technology when it becomes available. Having access to it is very different than actually using it, and retailers have to start playing a long game that will require investment, patience, tolerance of failure, and more investment before success is achieved.