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Nation’s first autonomous retail outlet in action at Kochi

Shoppers can enter the store scanning a QR-code on the store’s smartphone app, pick up the products and walk out; billed amount will be debited later.

A group of entrepreneurs from Kerala revealed India’s first autonomous retail store last week in Kochi at the Gold Souk Grande Mall, called Watasale. Powered by advanced camera technology, sensors and artificial intelligence, Watasale lets customers pick up products directly from the shelves and leave without the need to queue up at a counter. The bill amount is later debited from the customer, payable through credit or debit card or a compatible e-wallet.

How the autonomous outlet works
Before entering the store, shoppers have to download the Watasale app on their smartphone. The app will generate a QR code which will need to be scanned at the entry turnstile of the shop. Once the turnstile allows entry, shoppers can pick up any product available on the shelves. As of now, the outlet has a stock of 180 kind of products.

The whole store has distributed sensors and cameras. Through computer vision and AI algorithms, the system calculates the items picked up and the amount to be charged from individual buyers. Buyers can simply walk out of the store once they are done. An e-bill will be auto-generated and sent to the shoppers’ smartphones within five minutes of exiting the store.

As of now, customers can choose to pay later through their debit card, credit card or e-wallets. Going forward, an e-wallet will be integrated to the application which will directly debit the amount from a buyer once the bill is generated..

Plans ahead
The Watasale team will utilise the initial months to analyse purchase patterns and demands and improve their systems or solve glitches, if any. The company has confirmed to the media that customer-based purchase patterns will be used solely for analytics and strategy-creation in terms of store inventory and no private data of customers will be accessed.

The store has plans to expand across the nation, starting with Delhi and Bengaluru. They plan to add more variety of products, while maintaining an organised store setup and decorum. They have recently received funding from Japan’s Mitsui and Co. Ltd.

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