Long-waited Amazon Go opened its door to the public in Seattle last week and there has been overall positive feedback. However, unmanned stores are definitely not a new concept for China’s tech-savvy consumers. Since May 2017, when Alibaba launched its first unmanned store with the focus word “new retail”, a flurry of Chinese tech companies has created their own versions of unmanned stores with Shanghai becoming an important base.

BIU (similar to 哔 bì, the sound a scanner makes), Suning’s second big data-driven unmanned store, opened its doors in Shanghai on November 6th, 2017, following the opening and trial of the first Nanjing-based store in August. Powered by facial recognition, the store held public events to both promote and test their systems.

“We tried some activities to see how well the camera recognizes people. We held a public event inviting different groups of people. The camera had to identify a lady with or without makeup, a person dressed normally and with a cosplay wig and makeup, and twin brothers and sisters. They tried it and the scanner could read them all,” William, who’s in charge of BIU’s store told TechNode.

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Eva Yoo

Eva Yoo is Shanghai-based tech writer. Reach her at evayoo@technode.com