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The cashierless technology shift continues apace with today’s news that Zippin has raised $30 million in a series B round of funding. The San Francisco-based company is one of several players in the space to gain traction for a technology that seeks to not only make supermarket queues obsolete, but also generate big data insights for retailers.
Founded in 2018, Zippin leverages AI, cameras, and smart shelf sensors to enable shoppers to place items in their cart and walk out without waiting. The company opened its first checkout-free store in San Francisco back in 2018, and it has since entered into partnerships with the likes of Aramark, Sberbank, and the Sacramento Kings’ Golden 1 Center to power cashierless stores globally.
Zippin had previously raised around $15 million, and with another $30 million from SAP, Maven Ventures, Evolv Ventures, and OurCrowd, the company is well-financed to capitalize on the retail industry’s continued push toward automation-powered efficiency. The company said its ultimate goal is to retrofit stores with the required technology inside a day, with minimal downtime for retailers.
A data play
Checkout-free shopping is undoubtedly gearing up to disrupt the trillion-dollar retail industry, with technological solutions that include everything from computer vision and in-store sensors to QR codes, RFID tags, and smart shopping carts. And while Amazon and its Go-branded stores have arguably hogged the limelight in the burgeoning cashierless retail sphere, numerous companies have emerged to help retailers of all sizes embrace the future (Amazon is now selling its Go technology to third parties). But beyond all the consumer-focused talk of bypassing lengthy queues, the technology promises retailers a wealth of data and brings many of the benefits of ecommerce to brick-and-mortar stores.
Indeed, using technology from companies such as Zippin can surface aggregate customer behavior patterns, such as what products they pick up and put back most frequently, how long they spend looking at a product, and whether they look at marketing signage. It can also provide real-time out-of-stock alerts to ensure shelves are fully stocked. While cashierless technology is not pervasive yet, and it will eventually raise big questions around customer privacy and data security. All this highlights why the technology is likely to succeed in the long run — it promises a win-win situation for time-pressed customers and data-hungry businesses alike.
Moreover, “contactless” tech is one of the big trends to emerge from the pandemic, adding allure to tools that minimize physical contact between people.
“Shoppers want contactless experiences everywhere they go,” Zippin cofounder and CEO Krishna Motukuri noted in a press release. “As retailers realize that frictionless checkout-free technology is also contactless by design, they see a great opportunity to kill two birds with one stone.”
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