CHICAGO -- Jan. 11 is the final day of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and plenty of companies are using the technology showcase to introduce new shopping solutions.
But it seems as if all of the "normal" frictionless shopping ideas are already taken. One company has a creepy version of rolling-cooler delivery bots. Another promises a large-footprint solution that sounds too good to be true. And another essentially slapped a tablet on a shopping cart.
Strange does not necessarily mean ineffective. These new solutions may be just what retail has been looking for. But boy, do they sound odd.
Click through for a few strange takes on the future of shopping …
1. Fetch an order
For anyone who ever wanted a robot dog to deliver their pizza, their hour may have arrived.
Continental Engineering Services, based in Frankfurt, Germany, has developed a bus-like vehicle for deliveries. But instead of delivering groceries, the van deploys four-legged robots with packages strapped to their backs. The robots then take the package straight to the customer’s door.
The walking robots are, in theory, an improvement on the sidewalk delivery robots with wheels. With enough time and technical know-how, Continental could probably produce a robot capable of delivering a package up a full flight of stairs. But for anyone who has seen videos of similar robots from Boston Dynamics, the robot dogs could come off as creepy.
2. You spelled grab-and-go wrong
Berkeley, Calif.-based Grabango (pronounced like grab-and-go), recently secured $12 million in financing. Similar to other frictionless checkout concepts, Grabango uses sensors and computer algorithms to locate every item in-store. But unlike most frictionless checkout companies, Grabango’s solution is optimized for stores with more than 100,000 square feet, according to an article from Venture Beat.
It also doesn’t require a smartphone. The computer vision and machine learning systems maintain a virtual shopping basket for each person’s store visit, the company said.
If Will Glaser, Grabango CEO and co-founder, is to be believed, the system will allow shoppers to enter or exit the store from anywhere and pay in any format. He also claims the system can recognize objects with 99.9% accuracy, track hundreds of shoppers at once and monitor hundreds of thousands of SKUs. Glaser is also reportedly trying to bring the technology America’s top 30 grocers and top 10 convenience-store chains; however, there does not appear to be a working demonstration of the tech available to the public at this time.
3. Caper the friendly cart
Caper Labs, based in New York, is also building a frictionless checkout system for larger footprint stores, but this product is all about the shopping cart.
Caper has placed a touchscreen, scanner and payment infrastructure on a shopping cart. From this futuristic cart, customers can peruse a store map and item locator, recommended items and promotions.
This cart-bound self-checkout system sounds similar to one Microsoft was rumored to be working on with Walmart last year, but does not seem to be related.