Tuesday, September 21, 2021

No more queues and cash payments as AI replaces humans at Dubai grocery store

Digitisation that started as a way to cope with the limitations imposed by lockdowns, has now become the norm with residents relying on e-commerce, to buy essentials as well as electronics and apparel. With restrictions being lifted to usher in the new normal, retail stores are turning to hybrid models to compete with online shops, and are adding AI, digital payments as well as contactless services to their toolkit.

Over the past year or so, malls have deployed robots to enforce social distancing norms, while droids have also been helping out at warehouses, as computer vision tracks footfalls and consumer behaviour. After introducing deliveries outside malls and indoor air quality monitoring in the Middle East, Majid Al Futtaim group has now opened doors to a grocery store managed entirely by AI, without any human intervention.

Shoppers can start by accessing products at the outlet in Dubai through a smartphone app, after which they can start selecting items from a list of 1300 products. Their virtual cart is updated as per their choices at the premises, thanks to computer vision which keeps an eye on consumers via 97 cameras.

To address privacy concerns over use of facial recognition in the Middle East, the AI cams only use body structure to identify and follow a person around the store. The footage which is instrumental for the key-point mechanism that differentiates visitors, can only be accessed by a team to resolve customer complaints.

Once the users have added products to their basket, they can simply walk out of the store without having to wait in line for cash payments, since the ammount is deducted from their registered account or cards. Receipts for the transaction are sent to consumers through the Carrefour app, as human interaction is completely avoided in times of social distancing.

The technology sourced from an AI firm in the US, is similar to a smart snack bar, which has been set up by PepsiCo at Dubai Expo.

Image: Shutterstock

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