No cash counters, no salesmen: Watasale shows path for retailers


KOCHI: Imagine just walking into a store, picking up what you need and coming out smoothly without thinking about payment at all. Well, this is likely to be a model of future retail market.


With the opening of one such retail shop in Kochi a week ago, there is nothing wrong in stating that the era of next-gen shopping has already dawned in India.

Watasale, claimed to be the country's first autonomous retail store in India, is functioning at Gold Souk Mall in Kochi. Without any sales persons or cashiers, the retail store is offering a check-out free experience for the customers.

At the start-up launched by five friends, a combination of Artificial Intelligence, sensor fusion and computer vision are being made use of.  It is the selfsame technology used in self driving cars.

How it works?

Customers can first download Watasale App from the playstore. When they go for shopping they just have to scan the QR code at the entrance. After the purchase they can just walkout. Within five minutes a detailed bill will come to the shopper's phone. And the payment can be done through mobile wallets, debit and credit cards.

Watasale is modelled on the technology that Amazon has used in its check-out free grocery store in Seattle, the United States. American retail giant Walmart has announced a partnership with Microsoft to launch cashier-free stores.

The first completely autonomous retail store in India was opened after three years of brainstorming and countless trail sessions."We want to give people the ultimate shopping experience. We believe that this is the future of shopping," Rajesh Malamel, chief marketing officer of the company, was quoted as saying by The Hindu.

Though the store is completely automated, it is not completely impersonal.  Shop assistants have been appointed who help customers get familiar with the way technology works.

No intrusion to privacy

The team behind the firm assures that the Watasale App will no way intrude into the shopper's privacy. “Though we use computer vision we don't use facial recognition. Instead we depend on multiple classifications based on Al and identify the customer based on the algorithm. The customer or their mobile phones are not tracked," one of the co- founders of the company said. He also added that the cashier-free shopping facility being offered by Watasale is much safer as it cuts the risk of shoplifting.

Future plans

Watasale has expansion plans and the minds behind the brand are seriously thinking to open outlets in Bengaluru and Delhi. Apart from this, the brand is planning to open micro stores in apartment complexes, housing areas, workplaces and transit points. The micro stores would work as upgraded vending machines and customers can use them at any time of the day for groceries, daily essentials, food items and the like.

The company also has plans to deliver fresh farm produce to the consumers. No cash counters, no salesmen: Watasale shows path for retailers


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