The Tao Cafe in China uses facial and voice recognition systems to track purchases seamlessly

Following in the footsteps of Amazon Go, Chinese e-commerce behemoth Alibaba Group has launched its own cashier-free retail store called Tao Cafe. Tech startups can't seem to get into the staffless market quickly enough.

Tao Cafe opened in Hangzhou on July 8 for a trial run using facial and voice recognition systems to track purchases. The system is able to automatically generate bills as soon as customers pass through a gate that can identify them with biometric technology.

Alibaba isn't the first tech company to introduce staffless stores in China. Guangdong-based tech startup BingoBox has launched its own version of a cashier-free store after winning ¥100 million ($14.8 million) in its first round of financing.

Bingobox has a different model compared to Tao Cafe, which is a mix between convenience stores and vending machines. Customers at Bingobox pay through QR codes on their phones. The company is hoping to open 200 Bingobox stores by the end of August.

Staffless stores have much lower operating costs, which many are predicting will be the savior of a struggling retail space. Outside of China there are many other companies investing in cashier-free stores. Japanese convenience store chain Lawson Inc. is currently testing out a store in Osaka, and a Silicon Valley startup called Wheelys Cafe has launched a staffless self-driving vending car that uses an AI hologram assistant.

The next step of staffless retail stores is mobility, with shops coming to you. Many predict self-driving cars will act as retail shops in the future, bringing you the goods you like right to the your doorstep.

Alibaba


Lead Image: Alibaba Group

Following in the footsteps of Amazon Go, Chinese e-commerce behemoth Alibaba Group has launched its own cashier-free retail store called Tao Cafe. Tech startups can't seem to get into the staffless market quickly enough.

Tao Cafe opened in Hangzhou on July 8 for a trial run using facial and voice recognition systems to track purchases. The system is able to automatically generate bills as soon as customers pass through a gate that can identify them with biometric technology.

Alibaba isn't the first tech company to introduce staffless stores in China. Guangdong-based tech startup BingoBox has launched its own version of a cashier-free store after winning ¥100 million ($14.8 million) in its first round of financing.