Hardware maker Lenovo has become the latest player to try out the cashier-less convenience store business, with the firm launching an automated retail outlet in China’s capital city.
Known for making electronic products such as PCs, mobile devices, VR headsets and operating data centers, Lenovo launched a “Lecoo Unmanned Store” at its new Beijing campus.
The cashier-less store was launched last week after four months of pilot operation, selling foods and beverages and groceries like snacks and juice boxes.
In the artificial intelligence (AI)-powered store, cameras recognize the customer’s face, matching with the customer profile registered. It allows customers to make fast, cashier-less check out, with the customer’s account automatically settled via mobile payment technology.
Daryl Cromer, Lenovo’s Vice President of Research and Technology, said running a store without employees and without cash registers can teach Lenovo as to how technology can be applied to specific challenges in a retail space.
That will allow Lenovo to make better devices and tailored solutions, optimized to fit the retail scenarios, he said, as per a company announcement.
Cashier-less store has become the latest trend in grocery and supermarket store industry. US-based e-commerce giant Amazon plans to open 3,000 cashier-less AmazonGo stores in the next three years.
Retailers and tech firms have been jumping on the cashier-less bandwagon, including Chinese internet behemoths Alibaba and JD.com, as well as electronics retail chain Suning.
On Lenovo Research’s next project for the convenience store, Cromer said in the announcement that the firm is working on several areas including solutions to improve the shopping experience for customers and store owners with technology upgrades, as well as “fun things” like “a cappuccino machine of the future, where you walk up and it knows your preferences and brews the beverage exactly how you want it.”
He added that these solutions require “a hefty amount of data gathering, and AI to build your profile and make relevant recommendations based on your preferences – all of which we’ve learned how to do with Lenovo Go.”
In an interview with Chinese local media, Zhou Ming, CEO of Lecoo, Lenovo’s new retail and internet-of-things unit, has said earlier that Lecoo is expected to reach 1 billion yuan (US$144 million) in revenue in the next two years, and US$1 billion by 2020.
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