Amazon plans to share cashierless store data with brands and advertisers

An Amazon Go employee heads toward the entrance of the cashierless store recently, using her phone to scan in. The Seattle-based company announced plans to start sharing data collected by its shopper-tracking cameras and sensors. — Seattle Times/TNS Inc created its cashierless technology to speed up a trip to the grocery or convenience store. Now it wants to use the tracking system to help brands and advertisers figure out how to sell more stuff.

In a blog post Wednesday, the Seattle-based company announced plans to start sharing data collected by its shopper-tracking cameras and sensors. Among other insights, Amazon would tell brands how many people ended up buying an item plucked from a shelf, how many put it back and how many purchased the product later on The initiative, called Store Analytics, essentially brings the data-mining attributes of e-commerce to physical stores.

Amazon’s “Just Walk Out” technology, introduced in 2018 after years of internal development, is installed in more than 50 Amazon retail stores, including Amazon Go convenience stores and Amazon Fresh grocery stores. The network of overhead cameras and shelf sensors automatically registers what a shopper selects and bills them on the way out.

If brands find the data useful, the initiative could help Amazon recoup the massive costs associated with developing and operating the technology. People working on the project, and at rival companies building cashierless systems, have long speculated that data on what items people consider, and how shoppers navigate stores, could be lucrative. Retail analysts tend to consider cashierless shopping a technological marvel but not yet a widespread commercial hit.

Amazon didn’t include pricing details, and a company spokesperson declined to share them. “Brands will have access to details on how their products are discovered, considered, and purchased in applicable stores to help them inform decisions related to selection, promotions, and ad campaigns,” according to the blog.

The program could renew privacy concerns with Amazon’s cashierless system. In the post and accompanying explainer, the company said individual shopper data would not be shared and used the phrase “aggregated and anonymised” 10 times. Video and images of shoppers will not be sent to brands, Amazon said, and individual shoppers can choose not to include their data in Store Analytics. – Bloomberg

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