French distributor Carrefour will be testing its own registerless store concept next year. Just like pioneer Amazon Go, Carrefour will rely on cameras and facial recognition to achieve a fully automated checkout system.
A first for Paris
According to French trade magazine Linéaires, the first experiment will be a small test store in Massy (near Paris). The store will measure 56 square metres and will only be open for Carrefour's own employees. Cameras will register which items visitors pick up and charge them using facial recognition.
Carrefour has already some experience with the technology as a result of a collaboration with Tencent in China: a test store, located in the harbour city of Shanghai, uses a facial recognition system for payment. The Chinese store operates on a very different scale, though: its surface measures 4,000 square metres.
Retailers looking for the answer to Amazon
The registerless store test is Carrefour's answer to the threat of Amazon, which has been experimenting with audience reactions to registerless stores for a while. Currently there are seven Amazon Go stores in the United States (located in Chicago, San Francisco and Seattle), with New York to come next. Rumour has it that the Americans have had their eye on France for a while, hoping to cause a paradigm shift in the food industry over there. The test seems to be Carrefour's way to prepare for that.
Carrefour's rival Casino already has a registerless store in Paris. Elsewhere in Europe, there are similar stores in amongst others Belgium (Colruyt's daughter company Okay), the Netherlands (Albert Heijn) and the United Kingdom (Sainsbury's).