Dubai is always pushing the boundaries when it comes to delivering unique shopping experiences, and a new store in Mall of the Emirates is certainly living up to this reputation. Carrefour City+, launched by Majid Al Futtaim on Monday, is the first cashier-free store in the region.
The store has no checkout counters. Instead, customers use their phones to access the store, and once they pick up what they’re looking for, they can leave. No staff interaction, no queues and no awkward digging around for coins in wallets and purses required.
Payment for the products is done through the MAF Carrefour app, which customers will have to download before they enter. Every item picked up by the store is then automatically added to a digital shopping basket, and the purchase is completed simply by walking out.
You can view the shopping process through this video below.
The store currently stocks more than 1,300 items such as snacks, beverages, packaged food and food-to-go meals, as well as essentials.
How does Carrefour City+ work?
Carrefour City+ uses a series of cameras that are powered by a combination of computer vision and machine learning to follow a shopper’s movement inside the store. These cameras use tracking technology to identify shoppers through their body structure, and do not record any facial recognition or biometric data.
It is all linked to the individual account on the MAF Carrefour app and the cameras help detect when a shopper picks up or puts down a product, so that their virtual baskets are automatically updated. Once the shopper leaves the store, the total amount of their basket is automatically charged to their registered card and a digital receipt is sent through the app.
Majid Al Futtaim has confirmed that staff will be available at the store to help customers find items on the shelves and address queries or concerns. Currently, the store will allow only 10 shoppers in at one time owing to Covid-19 safety regulations. Shoppers who try to generate a QR code to enter the store when it is at its full capacity will be notified by the app and asked to wait until another shopper leaves.
“Carrefour City+ has been designed to make life easier by using technology to remove friction and enhance the retail experience,” says Hani Weiss, chief executive of Majid Al Futtaim Retail. “The store represents a huge leap forwards for retail in the UAE and region as Carrefour continues to innovate to meet the needs of the present whilst anticipating future shopping trends.”
While many stores offer checkout-free or scan-and-go services, this technology may represent the next step in the region's retail shopping experience, given a push for contactless and cashless processes because of the pandemic.
Although this is a first-of-its-kind in the region, cashier-less stores aren't new. Amazon has been leading the fray with a series of automated convenience stores under the Amazon Go brand in the US. It does this by using "Just Walk Out" technology, a series of sensors and cameras to track what products are being removed from shelves, adding them to a virtual shopping trolley and charging customers accordingly. In February 2020, it opened its first full-fledged cashier-less grocery store in Seattle, with the sprawling space selling everything from meat and seafood to household items.
Brands such as Walmart and 7-Eleven have also been testing out the experience.
Carrefour City+ is located on the first floor of Mall of the Emirates, near the Metro station link. It is open daily from 9am to midnight.