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Industry News

Cashier-free Zippin store opens in San Francisco

August 20, 2018

Cashierless retailer Zippin opened its first store, in San Francisco. The 180-square-foot shop carries yogurt, freeze-dried peas, fruit juices and prepackaged sandwiches.

To shop at the store, customers must first download an app that scans QR codes inside the store. Each store shelf and refrigerator is equipped with scales to detect when items are picked up. Computer-vision-equipped overhead cameras record the transactions and track customer movement.

The store, near the Transbay Terminal and the Salesforce Tower, will be open for only one hour per day, and for a limited number of customers, Zippin founder Krishna Motukuri told Wired. The store will be available to the general public for limited hours beginning in mid-September.

“Zippin foresees selling the technology to gas station and convenience stores, airports and hotel lobbies”

But the company is more about testing the technology for other retailers than it is about building a chain of Zippin stores, says Motokuri. “This is just purely to prove the concept," he told the magazine. "This technology can be applied in any retail store." Zippin is "a software play," says Motokuri, who foresees selling the technology to gas station and convenience stores, airports and hotel lobbies.

"We expect everyone will want to customize it," Motokuri said. For now, clothing items are too formless and movable physically for the technology to track, he says, but solid and packaged wares are fine. There is surely room to learn, Motokuri says. "The potential is infinite," he said. "We're hoping our customers can educate us."

To be sure, others are doing similar things. Amazon.com has cashier-free technology it is employing in Amazon Go stores now opening across the U.S., while Microsoft, much like Zippin, is developing proprietary technology to sell to retailers.

More about how other retailers are adopting self-service technology is available here.

By Brannon Boswell

Executive Editor, Commerce + Communities Today