Lenovo is the next company to get into cashier-less convenience stores, following Alibaba, Walmart-owned Sam’s Club, JD, and Amazon. The hardware maker launched a cashier-less store in Beijing last week that sells Cup Noodles, juice boxes, and other small snacks.
To enter the “Lenovo Lecoo Unmanned Store,” customers wave to a tablet with a camera, which uses facial recognition to identify their account profile. Then, like Amazon Go’s system, customers can browse, pick up the items, freely exit, and the charges will be automatically deducted from their mobile payments accounts.
Although Lenovo is best known for making computers, phones, and smart home devices, its Lecoo convenience store mainly carries food. Many Chinese tech companies that make hardware choose to launch cashier-less stores that sell small snacks. Alibaba’s mostly automated Hema grocery store, for instance, has a bevy of drinks and fresh seafood, while e-commerce company JD stocked up on bags of chips and jerky. China already relies on mobile apps like WeChat and Alipay so it’s easy to get the general populace to try cashier-less checkout based on mobile payments.
Lenovo says it’s using the store as a “pilot program” to test out new tech, including improving facial recognition on its tablets and smartphones. So even if the connection between snacks and hardware seems tenuous, it’s all related in the end. It hopes to add features like ordering at the store to ship directly to your house and a smart coffee machine that would learn customer preferences.