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Tech retailer b8ta partners with Google

BY Marianne Wilson

Consumers will soon be able to test Google’s smart home products before they buy them.

Google is partnering with b8ta to open interactive, home-like vignettes in b8ta flagship stores in Houston; San Francisco; Austin, Texas; Corte Madera, Calif.; Tysons Corner, Va. The vignettes will also be rolled out in two upcoming b8ta locations due to open later this year, at The Mall at Short Hills, Short Hills, N.J., and Scottsdale, Arizona.

The stores will feature special demos of Google’s Home products placed in vignettes modeled after various rooms found in any home – from a living room to a kitchen – to allow shoppers to test different Google Assistant commands and see how the products work in a relatable environment.

“We are pleased that Google has chosen b8ta as an experiential retail partner,” said Vibhu Norby, CEO of b8ta. “With our history of demonstrating connected devices to millions of customers, and our singular focus as a retailer, on teaching and not selling, we believe we’ve created the ideal environment for learning about Google’s Home products,” said Vibhu Norby, CEO of b8ta.”

This year has proved a busy one for b8ta. In April, it launched an initiative, called Built by b8ta, to help emerging brands open stores with minimal effort using its “retail-as-a-service” model. Under the arrangement, b8ta takes care of everything, from landlord negotiations and store set-up to providing a state-of-the-art, data-driven technology platform.

And in June, Macy’s announced it had taken a minority stake in the company and would leverage b8ta’s software platform to expand The Market @ Macy’s, pop-up shop marketplace format.

B8ta, founded in 2015 by a group of Nest alumns, has 11 freestanding locations. The stores give consumers a hands-on demonstration of cutting-edge tech products, many from emerging brands. The business model is unusual: Instead of earning revenue from product sales, b8ta leases space in its stores to the product makers, who pay a monthly subscription fee to b8ta.

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Tech start-up opens cashierless demo store to rival Amazon Go

BY Marianne Wilson

Another tech company has opened a temporary retail outpost in San Francisco to show off its cashierless technology.

Artificial intelligence technology provider Standard Cognition has opened a “proof-of-concept” convenience store in San Francisco that allows consumers to shop and pay without scanning merchandise or stopping to check out. The nearly 2,000-sq.-ft. shop, called Standard Market, sells basic c-store items. It is open to the general public and will remain open indefinitely. Plans call for expanded hours and new features to be added during the coming weeks. Later this year, customers will have the option to pay without the app, using cash or credit card.

Here’s how the system works: Customers download the Standard Checkout app from Apple’s App Store or Google Play. Entering the store, customers check in through the app, select items from the shelves, and pay electronically through a credit or debit card stored within the app. Customers receive an electronic receipt following their visit.

The system correctly matches items to the right shopper, and detects when a shopper returns an item to a shelf or inserts it in a bag or pocket. There is no scanning required, for a frictionless experience.

Standard Cognition will use the store as a testing ground for its system’s scale and new features. For example, the store uses overhead cameras to monitor customer movement and behavior, eliminating the need for biometrics, and keeping shopper identities anonymous. Data can be used to improve retail operations, including better targeting flash sales, according to the company.

“The public opening of our Standard Market store is the culmination of nearly two years of work by the Standard team,” said Jordan Fisher, co-founder and CEO of Standard Cognition. “We’re excited to be able to welcome customers to the Standard Market, and give shoppers a glimpse of the future of retail.”

Standard Market’s debut comes on the heels of tech company Zippin opening its own “proof of concept” cashierless store in San Francisco. The Zippin outpost, which is currently open only through private invitation, sells a sells a variety of healthy snacks, prepared packaged lunch items and drinks.

Meanwhile, Amazon Go opened the doors to its third cashier-less convenience store on Monday in Seattle. And Walmart is launching a new Sam’s Club concept store that is focused on fresh foods and digital technology. -The new 32,000 sq. ft., technology-driven store location, which will set up shop in Dallas, will feature the company’s Scan & Go mobile self-checkout system, and digital signage.

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Chain Store Age will be closed for Labor Day

BY CSA Staff

The offices of Chain Store Age will be closed for the Labor Day holiday weekend. We will resume publishing on Sept. 4. The CSA team wishes you and your family a happy and safe holiday.

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