San Francisco Has a New Cashierless Store—and It Isn’t Amazon Go

Shoppers can zip in and zip out of Zippin’s checkout-free shop

Automated checkout startup Zippin's concept store sells lunch items, snacks and drinks. Zippin
Headshot of Lisa Lacy

And just like that, Amazon Go isn’t the only cashierless game in town anymore.

Automated checkout startup Zippin has launched its software platform and opened a cashierless concept store in San Francisco that sells lunch items, snacks and drinks.

Store access is available by invitation only to start, but Zippin said it will open to the public for limited hours starting in mid-September.

Shoppers download the Zippin app and connect a payment method. The app has a QR code they scan to enter. Overhead cameras follow customers’ movements, but Zippin said it does not use facial recognition. Cameras and smart-shelf sensors track when and which products are picked up or put back. Customers are charged when they leave.

In a release, Zippin said its platform can be easily and quickly deployed by any retailer (although a story in Wired said it doesn’t work for clothes yet), and Zippin said it works accurately in crowded locations.

Per Zippin’s figures, U.S. consumers spend nearly 37 billion hours a year standing in line. That’s about 113 hours a year based on a population of 325.7 million, or a little over two hours per person per week, which is maybe a little high. Nevertheless, it is reasonable to say consumers generally don’t like waiting.

“Consumer frustration with checkout lines is driving a tidal wave of demand among retailers and real estate owners keen to provide a frictionless retail experience,” said Zippin chief executive Krishna Motukuri in a statement. “With annual sales of grocery stores, convenience stores and quick-serve restaurants totaling nearly $1.6 trillion in the U.S. alone, we believe there is a sizeable market opportunity for us to pursue.”

Zippin also said its platform frees up real estate and human capital, resulting in inventory and merchandising efficiencies through the data captured by the system.

“Despite the popularity of shopping online, brick-and-mortar retail still accounts for more than 90 percent of all purchases made in the U.S.,” Motukuri added. “With Zippin, traditional retailers can now compete against ecommerce companies, which, until now, have had the advantage of leveraging a host of key data about their customers.”

A Zippin rep was not available by deadline.

Motukuri worked for Amazon for nearly seven years in the early 2000s. Per LinkedIn, his roles included supply chain optimization, international expansion and Amazon’s A9 unit, which includes product search, visual search and advertising.

Zippin’s debut gives further credence to the notion that cashierless technology is starting to have its moment.

Reports say Amazon Go is also headed to San Francisco and Chicago later this year. And, according to GeekWire, a second Seattle location is also in the works.

In June, reports emerged Microsoft is working on its own cashierless tech and is in talks with Walmart.

Ecommerce company has 20 unmanned convenience stores called X-Marts across China and plans hundreds more.

In July, retail automation platform Trigo Vision announced $7 million in seed funding and said it is talking to grocers in the U.S. and Europe.

And AI startup Spruce Labs offers similar functionality called Handshake Checkout. Beauty-store chain Ulta is doing a pilot.

@lisalacy Lisa Lacy is a senior writer at Adweek, where she focuses on retail and the growing reach of Amazon.