Microsoft is developing its very own checkout-free retail solution to take on Amazon Go, Reuters reports, citing half a dozen sources with knowledge of the project. The platform's development status remains unclear, with its possible launch window hence also being uncertain. Microsoft is said to have already showcased the technology to some retailers across the globe and several insiders claim the firm already discussed a potential collaboration with Walmart, Amazon's largest retail rival. Walmart has reportedly been working on an Amazon Go competitor for over a year now but while the e-commerce giant already has a working cashier-less store in Seattle and plans to open at least a handful more such locations by the end of the year, its rival has yet to even embrace any large-scale testing, indicating its solution is still significantly behind from a technological perspective.
That state of affairs may make a potential Microsoft partnership a lucrative proposition for Walmart, though it remains unclear whether the two are currently planning to advance their preliminary talks. The Redmond, Washington-based tech juggernaut is said to be specifically touting its solution as an option for retailers who feel threatened by Amazon's automation technologies and are afraid of being left behind once the firm manages to deploy them on a large scale, thus having a physical retail chain with significantly lower operating expenses that would allow it to pass some of those savings on to consumers and consequently offer the lowest prices.
From a technological standpoint, Microsoft's system is reportedly similar to that of Amazon, entailing a range of cameras and sensors meant to keep track of store visitors and item locations, detecting who picked up what, and charging their credit cards for it once they leave the retail location, provided they haven't returned the items. Following its Seattle debut, the Amazon Go program will expand to Chicago and San Francisco in the coming months, with Amazon hence being the first retailer to offer such a checkout-free physical shopping experience.