Chinese etail giant JD.com has laid down the gauntlet to Amazon after revealing plans to open hundreds of checkout-free convenience stores.
JD.com has already trialled the format, which uses recognition technology to identify products and register payment, among 10,000 staff at its headquarters in Beijing.
Cameras on the ceilings of the stores monitor shopper movements and generate heat maps in order to monitor customer flow, product selection and customer preferences.
JD.com said the stores are also able to show shoppers customised adverts and promotions based on their demographics and shopping habits.
The business eventually plans to license the technology to other third-party retailers as well as opening its own stores.
Amazon is piloting a similar checkout-free c-store, dubbed Amazon Go, at its Seattle base.
And it registered the trademark ‘No Queue. No Checkout. (No, Seriously.)’ in the UK amid rumours that it was bringing the format across the Atlantic.
However, the etailer has been slower to roll out more stores after encountering problems with the technology it uses to track shoppers and take automatic payment for their purchases.
JD.com vice president Song Ma said its plans would “completely change what it means to go to take a trip to the store”.
He added: “From helping small stores’ owners streamline their supply chains and increase stocking efficiency, to speeding up check-out, this is a massive jump beyond anything in use today.”
JD.com said it had struck a deal with China Overseas Land & Investment to open hundreds of the unmanned shops across the country.