One of the most popular exhibits at the 2017 World Internet Conference in east China’s Wuzhen has been the Tmall Supermart – an unmanned store that mixes e-commerce, facial recognition technology and traditional shopping, giving a glimpse of how we will buy goods in the future.
This service is currently only available to people with Chinese ID cards, but Tmall gave CGTN a test phone to show us how it works.
It’s very simple – just take your phone, open your Tmall or Alipay account and scan a QR code before entering the shop. At the entrance gate, a barcode on your phone is scanned, and a camera registers your face as you walk in.
This test store at the WIC showed off how facial recognition technology could be used in the future to give customers special offers based on their past purchases or even their mood. A camera in this store judges how happy you are, and gives you your own special price based on your expression.
So how do you pay? This store has no till, just an exit gate. All you have to do is stand by the gate, where your face is recognized and the goods you want to buy are detected by sensors, processed via your Alipay account and automatically paid for. The gate opens, and that’s it, you’ve finished shopping.
This particular store shows how gift shops, convenience stores and even supermarkets of the future could work. Amazon Go, a similar concept in the US, is still in the prototype phase, but Alibaba, Bingobox and Auchan have already launched working unmanned convenience stores in cities across China.