January 26, 2018
AI and Chatbots as the Next Cashiers
Self-serve markets are not a novel concept. Many workplaces offer self-checkout markets for snacks and quick lunches. Amazon’s Go store, however is naturally a little different. The company stays true to their pioneering culture by introducing one of the world’s first marketplaces powered by artificial intelligence. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports the store opening at Amazon’s corporate headquarters on Monday will feature machine learning algorithms that will charge employees’ Amazon accounts when they walk out with merchandise. If the item is placed back, they won’t be charged.
Just Walk Out Technology
While AI will take on the job of cashier, the Amazon Go store will still employ people. Employees prepare and cook food, stock shelves and assist with customer service. The store will open up on the first floor of Amazon’s Seattle headquarters and will serve as a test market for their increasing brick and mortar efforts. The AI checkout concept in testing at the Amazon Go store may make its way into Whole Foods as well.
When an employee walks into an Amazon Go store they will open up their Amazon Go app to enter the store. Once they grab the items they want, they simply leave the store without checking out. Amazon brands this as Just Walk Out technology. Why did Amazon create Amazon Go? The company wanted to create a shopping experience with no waiting and checkout time. Amazon already pushes the boundaries of machine learning so why not apply that to make a better consumer experience?
Many people only associate Amazon and AI with internet environments and ecommerce. However, both will play an increasingly pivotal world our consumer experiences in the physical world. AI will contribute to convenience and for suggesting related items to purchase, while people will still manage stores, prepare food and assist customers. In physical stores, consumers still want human contact for certain interactions.
Chatbots Selling, Serving and Checking Out
Amazon’s Go market model relies solely on AI to check out customers at the end of their in-store sessions. In other consumer environments we will start to see chatbots (albeit powered by AI) also serving as a cash register. Most of the customer-facing investment in chatbots lies in payment solutions, banking and customer service. With advancements in AI, chatbots went from clunky question fielders to customer service agents with the ability to suggest products, sign customers up for services and check them out at the end of their session. Chatbots can essentially simultaneously serve as sales, customer service and cashiers.