Amazon’s cashier-less technology heading to NYC airports but other retailers will pass, experts say

A previous version of this story misstated when the LaGuardia Airport location will open. It has been corrected.

Two Cibo Express Gourmet Markets will have grab-and-go capabilities

Cibo Express Gourmet Markets will launch Inc.’s “Just Walk Out” cashier-less technology at its stores in Newark Liberty Airport on March 16, but experts say other retailers will take a pass on adding it to their stores.

Cibo Express Gourmet Markets is part of OTG, a privately held travel hospitality group. The company will open a cashier-less store in LaGuardia Airport as well.

“Starting next week, travelers in the busy Newark Liberty Terminal C will no longer have to assess store lines to determine if they can quickly grab that snack, bottle of water, or travel essential they need before their flight,” said Dilip Kumar, vice president of physical retail and technology at Amazon, in a statement.


AMZN, -3.75%

  announced on Monday that it was making the technology, currently used at its Go stores, available to other retailers.

Read: Walmart may cut store hours to combat coronavirus and says a Kentucky associate has tested positive

Amazon says the technology takes “as little as a few weeks” to install in existing stores, and the company can work with construction plans for new stores and remodels. Any customer service needs will be handled by the retailer directly.

Experts say the problem isn’t with the installation process.

“I think their big challenge will be to persuade companies that they are not supporting their biggest competitor by partnering with Amazon on something like this,” said Sucharita Kodali, analyst at Forrester.

“There are enough other alternatives to cashier-less commerce technologies that the imperative to work with Amazon wanes every day.”

Others say retailers are focused on technology that enhances stores in other ways.

Samuel Mueller, chief executive of Scandit, thinks retailers are more focused on ways to upgrade the supply chain and operations in their stores rather than revamping them for a grab-and-go experience.

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Scandit is a “computer vision” software company that provides barcode scanning on smartphones among other products and services.

“Retailers are waking up to the reality that the key to winning the omnichannel war is to leverage the device in consumers’ hands,” Mueller said.

“After being squeezed by online giants like Amazon for over a decade, do retailers really want to hand over core customer interactions – including the transaction itself – to those same giants?”

David Marcotte, senior vice president of insights at Kantar, thinks the issue boils down to dollars and cents. This technology, which he has worked on for many years, is very expensive. There are alternatives that offer the convenience customers want without the high cost, he told MarketWatch.

“Self-checkout has improved greatly,” he said. “Scan-and-go technology, pickup solutions; there are lots of things that make money. This one doesn’t.”

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For OTG, the issue is checkout speed in an environment where customers are in a rush.

“OTG has always embraced technology as a means of optimizing the airport experience so that we can give our guests their time back,” said Rich Blatstein, chief executive of OTG, in a statement.

Starbucks Corp.

SBUX, -8.78%

  announced last month that it has also partnered with OTG on technology that will bring items to customers at arrival and departure gates.

Amazon stock is up 8.2% over the past year. Starbucks is down 3.2%. And the S&P 500 index

SPX, -4.89%

 is down 2.5% for the period.

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