A cashierless autonomous retail store concept allows one to walk into its store, select the items and walkout
by NUR HANANI AZMAN / pic by TMR FILE
AYE Solutions Sdn Bhd is set to open the first unmanned retail store in the country, in an effort to help more people shop in-store with confidence, ease, speed and increased hygiene standards.
Its shopping experience concept allows one to walk into its store, select the items and walk out — with the in-store technology knowing what the shopper has chosen and charged for, said its founder Lim Yee Yun (picture).
“The first outlet of Aye Smart Store will open at the end of April 2021 at UOA Glenmarie, Shah Alam in Selangor, which will also serve as a Proof of Concept store for retailers who are interested in this solution to experience it.
“We are engaging with a few store owners and retailers, and we are glad to know that many brands are anticipating to undergo digital transformation,” she told The Malaysian Reserve.
Aye Solutions, an artificial intelligence (AI) local start-up, started the business in July 2020 offering an autonomous retail solution at an affordable cost, covering software to hardware.
The solution is a combination of innovative technology not available locally, designed to meet the needs of the local market and fit into the Malaysian ecosystem.
“We partner with a number of technology service providers in South-East Asia and East Asia,” said Lim, 26, a problem-solving enthusiast.
According to Allied Market Research, the retail automation market size was valued at US$11.24 billion in 2018, and is projected to reach US$23.58 billion (RM96.95 billion) by 2026, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 9.6% from 2019 to 2026.
Business vs Consumer Perception
According to Lim, cameras will track what you grab from shelves and with a single QR scan of its app tied to a verified payment method, you’re charged for what you pick up as you walk out of the store.
“Cameras will track what you grab from shelves and with a single QR scan of its app on your way in and out of the store, you’re charged for what you got.
“Leveraging AI helps retailers collect enough data to dictate the future product array and business model. With no allocation for cashier space, more products can be sold,” she explained.
Some business owners think the cost involved with this concept is probably high and they need to have a technical background to use this solution.
“We try to make sure our solution is affordable, applicable and accessible by all, which means even people with zero technical background can use our solution.
“We provide a total solution where we instal, provide maintenance, hardware to software. They just need to use the app to oversee the operation,” she said.
For elderly customers who don’t want to use the app, Aye Solutions provides payment options including using debit and credit cards.
Efficient, Effective Manpower Planning
While autonomous retail stores will be cashierless, that doesn’t mean they’ll have no staff. At the very least, a single employee may be needed to handle restocking, customer support and store maintenance once freed from cashier duties.
Lim said in fact, the unmanned store still needs a person to do stock keeping and to look at sales reports.
“As the economy moves to high-value tasks, we want to upskill local talents and do away with low-value tasks such as bagging groceries and cash register duties.
“Entry level-staff at the store will now be engaged in business analysis tasks, which help them build more in-demand skills in the Fourth Industrial Revolution economy.
Lim said some people may have a negative perception of technology, but retailers and customers need to look at things from different angles. She said upskilling is key.
“Instead of creating a job that doesn’t add value, why not create a job that makes youth becomes more employable,” she opined.
Lim said customers have come to expect a seamless experience in every aspect of life hence, it is important retail store owners can offer this experience, while still preserving the traditional in-store experience.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has made safety and hygiene a top priority for many customers. This is a solution that will offer shoppers an enjoyable shopping experience, while complying to the new normal standard operating procedures.
“At the moment, we are in the R&D phase of developing other solutions that can be used for the office and hotel markets,” she added.