If nothing scares you more than the sight of an endless queue at the cash counter when you go grocery shopping at the neighbourhood supermarket, here’s some good news. Kochi is set to become India’s first state to have a fully-automated supermarket where customers can buy whatever they want and ‘just walk out’.
Launched by a Kochi-based startup, Watasale supermarket is modelled on Amazon Go, the very first brick and mortar store in Seattle by the retail brand where customers enjoy cashier-less shopping.
The founders promise a hassle-free shopping experience where you don’t have to worry about waiting in long queues, dealing with uninterested/slow cashiers, scanning products, waiting for the bill to be generated and be rechecked at the exit.
Watasale operates on a combination of Artificial Intelligence (AI), computer vision and sensor fusion. Richu Jose, the chief operating officer told The Hindu,
“Though we use computer vision, we don’t use facial recognition. Instead, we depend on multiple classifications based on AI and identify the customer based on the algorithm. The customer or their mobile phone is not tracked.”
Customers need to download the Watasale app on their phones and scan the QR code before entering the store. The customers can then proceed with their shopping, and once they are through, they can just walk out. The bill amount is deducted from the customer’s account through an integrated wallet or credit card.
The supermarket has employed store assistants to help the customers get familiar with the technology. Watasale will stock everything ‘from fresh produce to beverages, packed food and pharmaceuticals’, reports The Hindu.
From a security perspective, Watasale will be no different than a regular store. The technology used will only help in cutting down the risk of shoplifting.
Customers can enjoy this futuristic shopping experience at the Watasale store located inside the Gold Souk Grande. The founders are soon planning to introduce the people of Bengaluru and New Delhi to this one-of-a-kind concept.
Watasale micro-stores will be in next in line. The founders call this an upgraded version of vending machines that will stock groceries, daily essentials, food items. These micro-stores will be situated in apartment complexes, workplaces and transit areas.
In the future, the founders also plan to open to franchise-stores and also get farmers on board to help them sell the fresh produce directly to the customers.