On the afternoon of June 14th, Beijing time, Reuters quoted 6 sources as reporting that Microsoft is developing automatic checkout technology for use in unmanned convenience stores and hopes to challenge Amazon in this area. According to sources, Microsoft is currently developing technologies that can track the products consumers place in shopping carts.
Three sources said that Microsoft has demonstrated this technology to retailers around the world and is in discussions with Wal-Mart to discuss the possibility of cooperation.
In January of this year, Amazon opened the Amazon Go convenience store in Seattle, and Microsoft hopes to use its own technology to help retail companies to fight against Amazon in this business. When shopping on Amazon Go, consumers can scan their mobile phones into convenience stores. The cameras and sensors in the store can identify what products consumers have taken from the shelves. After the consumer completes the shopping, they do not need to queue up and can walk out of the convenience store. Amazon will use the credit card information provided by the consumer in advance to deduct the charge.
Amazon expects to open Amazon Go unmanned convenience stores in Chicago and San Francisco in the near future. The company’s service has once again made them the target of other retail companies in the world. Many companies hope to launch similar services.
For Microsoft, being an ally with other retailers in the world has great significance for the company's own business. In the field of cloud services, Microsoft's sales ranked second in the world, and it was Amazon that came before them. For e-commerce companies, cloud services are a key technology. After reaching cooperation with retail enterprises, Microsoft's cloud services will likely gain more corporate users.
It is not yet clear when Microsoft will officially launch this automatic checkout service. But in the eyes of some, this technology will be the next major innovation in the shopping field, a technology that all Amazon's competitors cannot ignore.
Gene Munster, research director at Loup Ventures, said: “This is the future billing method for convenience stores and grocery stores. "Loup Ventures expects that the market size of US automatic checkout services will reach $50 billion in the future." In the U.S. talent market, cashiers are among the most professionally employed.
For this news, Microsoft stated that it would not respond to rumors or speculation. Both Wal-Mart and Amazon declined to respond.
Reduce equipment prices
According to one source, Microsoft's focus so far has been on enterprise AI and artificial intelligence. A team of 10-15 people has been working on retail technology, and they have shown some technology to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.
The source also revealed that Nadella had a meeting with the team a few months ago and recommended that the team develop a smart device that can manage other interconnected devices in the room, such as alleged first-class. Transfer data to the cloud at the lowest level to reduce usage costs.
Another source said that since the profits of most retail stores are already very thin, Microsoft must make the cost of equipment as low as possible. This requirement is a huge challenge for Microsoft.
Several sources said that Microsoft has reached a partnership with a number of companies, including AVA Retail in Redmond, which is using Microsoft's cloud services to build its own call-free technology. For Microsoft, the business sales of these partners can bring Microsoft cloud service revenue.
At the same time, Microsoft’s internal team has developed a technology that can install cameras on shopping carts to record the products selected by consumers. Members of this team include a computer vision expert who jumped from Amazon Go. In addition, according to sources, Microsoft also hopes that smartphones will also participate in the checkout-free process, and has studied various forms of participation.
Despite this, Microsoft's role in this area is still the "Amazon chaser" role.
Amazon spent 4 years secretly building Amazon Go services. In 2016, the company opened a no-habitation convenience store open to employees in Seattle headquarters. This convenience store collected data for about 14 months, after which Amazon opened a public unmanned convenience store in Seattle. After the acquisition of the Whole Foods Supermarket, the company stated that it did not plan to use the check-out technology in the Whole Foods supermarket.
Amazon is still working hard to improve this service. In an interview earlier this year, Amazon vice president Dilip Kumar said that they are training the computer so that it can identify goods and consumption with very little effective information. Behavior.
Scott Jacobson, general manager of Madrona Venture Group, said: "This problem is difficult to solve. Amazon has its own unique advantages in this regard. ”