Kochi gets India’s first AI supermarket

Modeled on Amazon Go, Kochi-based startup watAsale gets a firsthand experience of what shopping without any human interface feels like.

There are no long-winding queues or cashiers. At this fully-automated store recently launched at the city’s Gold Souk Grande Mall, customers get a hands-on experience of cashier-less shopping.

The ‘just-walk-out’ technology, that the Watasale store is based on, is a first of its kind in India, claim the founders. The shopping is hassle-free. There is no need to scan the products, generate the bill, enter the card pin, or get the bill checked at the exit. It runs on a combination of Artificial Intelligence (AI), computer vision and sensor fusion.

How it works? Customers have to download the watAsale app and enter the store by scanning the QR code at the entrance. Pick up the products, toss them into your bag and walk out; the money gets automatically deducted from the customer’s account through the credit card or an integrated wallet.

“This is the future of shopping. Though this is a pilot run, we are a live store. The footfalls are just picking up, but we want to give people the ultimate automated shopping experience,” Rajesh Malamal, the Chief Marketing Officer of watAsale said.

Shop assistants have been appointed, who help customers get familiar with the way the technology works. “Anything from fresh produce to beverages, packed food and pharmaceuticals can be sold through this model. This can also be scaled up to a hypermarket, based on how well our people adapt to the technology,” Richu Jose, the Chief Operating Officer of watAsale said.

Watasale is planning to expand to Bengaluru and Delhi. It also plans to open franchisee stores, and as a later step, include farmers by directly purchasing from them and delivering fresh produce to consumers.


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