Walmart testing cashierless stores and home delivery (AI/Walmart - 2017-12 - TechRepublic)

Walmart is testing an automated physical store concept, using computer vision to track and automatically bill customers’ purchases, eliminating the need for human cashiers. Walmart subsidiary Code Eight is experimenting with letting customers shop at their stores via text message. Guests may be able to text a photo of a specific item or a general description to a bot, which will select an item and add it to their order. The bots will use machine learning and natural language processing to provide the best items. Household items will be delivered to the customer for free within 24 hours, with other items arriving within two days.

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Examples of automated store models, including 40 stores operated by 4 people (AI/Automated Stores - 2017-10 - Disrupters)

Five examples of automated stores:
1. Mobile, automatic grocery.stores in Shanghai, using self-driving electric vehicles that come to you, mobile payments, and wireless tagging of stock.
2. BingoBox has over 150 static automatic shops operating in China, offering 10 sq.m. stocked with a wide range of items, and a video-linked assistant. It only takes 4 staff to run 40 stores.
3. Alibaba is testing a pop-up café with no cashiers, using facial recognition on entry, custom food selection, and mobile phone payment.
4. Amazon is using their own staff to test a food store with no staff and no checkout. Customers scan their mobiles on their arrival, select products, and leave paying through their Amazon account.
5. Alibaba is pioneering a retail ecosystem that provides a bricks-and-mortar store catering to both online and offline shopping. Groceries – or a meal – can be ordered online to be picked up or delivered. 13 cashless supermarkets are already operating, mostly in Shanghai.

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Amazon takes next step in controlling and automating its delivery service (AI/Amazon - 2017-10 - Bloomberg)

Amazon is experimenting with a new delivery service intended to make more products available for free two-day delivery and to relieve overcrowding in its warehouses. Amazon will oversee pickup of packages from warehouses of third-party merchants selling goods on and their delivery to customers’ homes – work that is now often handled by UPS and FedEx.

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Walmart introduces secure grocery delivery to your fridge (AI/Courier - 2017-10 - FastCode)

Walmart is partnering with smartlock makers at August Home, and the delivery service Deliv, to test (in Silicon Valley) grocery delivery straight to your refrigerator – even when you’re not home. The system starts with an order on; The Deliv driver takes your packages to your home; Ringing the doorbell initiates a phone notification; If you’re not home, the driver enters a one-time code to unlock the door, and stores your groceries in your fridge, while being monitored on security cameras linked to your phone.

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Amazon Key starts a service in November 2017 that lets couriers unlock your front door (AI/Courier - 2017-10 - The Verge)

Amazon Key relies on Amazon’s new Cloud Cam and compatible smart lock. The camera is the hub, connected to the internet via your home Wi-Fi. The camera talks to the lock over Zigbee. Couriers with an in-home delivery package scan barcodes, and Amazon’s cloud grants permission by starting cameras recording. Couriers swipe screens, and doors unlock. Packages are dropped off, and doors relocked. Customers are notified, along with a short video showing the drop-off. The smart lock, connected camera, and free installation cost $250.

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Shake Shack is launching a cashless burger joint in New York City in October 2017 (AI/Fast Food - 2017-10 - TechCrunch)

Shake Shack is trialing a cash-free New York location, where the only ordering option will be via kiosks. It will feature custom-made kiosks with touchscreen ordering, and built-in text message alerts for when orders are ready for pickup. Staff will provide customer support.

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AI to replace retail workers sooner than expected (AI - 2017-09 - Citibank)

Citibank’s research paper involved several experts predicting the future of human employment. One forecast is that employment in the retail industry is likely to vanish. But there’s always going to be a need for humans to provide a face-to-face experience that robots can’t, and people who are really good at that will keep their jobs.

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Wendy's digital transformation plans include self-serving kiosks in 1,000 restaurants in 2017 (AI/Automated Restaurant - 2017-07 - ZDNet)

Wendy’s in 2017: >1,000 restaurants with self-serving kiosks; Mobile ordering in >50% restaurants. 3 kiosks cost $12-15,000 with a 2-year payback and the gateway to mobile. Plans to use kiosk data to customize its sandwiches depending on location and time.

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Amazon plans to ship, store, retrieve, and deliver products with almost no humans Involved (AI/Amazon - 2017-05 - Quartz)

The Wall Street Journal reports that Amazon is exploring what role autonomous-vehicle technology could have in its business. The research hints at Amazon owning the delivery and logistics chain for its packages and making it as efficient as possible, which means eliminating human involvement (truck drivers, warehouse workers, maybe eventually even pilots) wherever possible.

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