Yee Yun Lim was frustrated with the long lines that the SOPs bred for shopping and wondered how something as simple as a run became so complex.
She remembered her experience at a Japanese supermarket where she could quickly type with her subway map, get what she needed, and type.
She was amazed at how convenient and quick it was to get her items around without queuing and decided to bring this concept to the local scene.
A Proof-of-concept smart store
Through her company Aye Solutions – pronounced "I" solutions – she brings her Proof-of-Concept-AI-Shop (POC) here to the untapped local market and calls it the Aye Smart Store.
Their goal is to make AI more accessible to local businesses and mass-market through the localized plug-and-play model.
Dictionary time: Plug and Play is used to describe devices that work with a computer system once connected without the need for external drivers or prior installation.
This is how the store works. Imagine an unmanned store that offers a fully automated experience from entering to exiting.
To enter the store, simply tap either a bank card or the Aye Solutions app at the entrance gates, e.g. B. when entering the LRT.
You can then browse items off the shelves and put them in a physical shopping bag.
All items have prices on the shelves / Photo credit: Pexels
The Aye Smart Store will automatically add your items to the virtual copy of your shopping cart without the need for a scan.
If you change your mind, you can put items back on the shelves and Aye's system will remove them from your cart.
Just leave the store to check out. The Aye system will automatically charge the same card you entered with.
The robots take over
When I first read about this concept store, I hypothesized that there had to be some kind of motion sensor under every item in order for it to work.
That's how it would know when a customer picks something up and puts it down again, right?
I also wondered if only one person could be in the store at a time for the system to track their movements.
- The store manager app lets them view the store's layout (in blue), track and manage product inventory in real time, and manage the number of people in the store to facilitate social distancing / Image Credit: Aye Solutions
When she interviewed Yun Lim, she debunked my motion sensor theory. She also told Vulcan Post that Aye's system is designed to track multiple buyers at the same time.
It does this through the store's backend network with sensors and cameras that track and analyze shoppers' movement. This allows the store to automatically add or subtract items that have been picked up or put back on shelves.
It also addresses the shoplifting issue as every shopper who walks into the store is tied to the card they typed with.
The fluidity and ease of shopping that automation offers seems to be on the cutting edge of technology. However, it also requires some accountability from every buyer, especially when items are brought back to the right place when their mind changes.
The use of smarter technologies is also associated with skepticism in a market that is not often exposed to it. With the cameras and sensors in the shop tracking your movement from the very first moment, I come to the issue of privacy.
No strings attached
Think of it this way: cameras are already everywhere, from CCTVs watching us from the corners of the ceiling in stores to your condo elevators.
Regarding the information associated with your card, Yun Lim made it clear that the Aye Smart Store does not store any personal data in its backend. The same applies to bank information.
"We have strict privacy policies and do not sell personal information to third parties," she said.
“As far as bank details are concerned, like a bank, the payment terminal belongs to the financial services company and all information is stored by them. The financial service provider acts as an intermediary between the Aye Smart Store and the customer. "
The only information Aye requests is a customer's cell phone number in order to send a purchase confirmation code. It also acts as a contact point.
The store is set up although its opening is being delayed by the MCO / Image Credit: Aye Solutions
To showcase the smart store, Aye the POC is located in Glenmarie. Yun Lim hopes it will introduce Aye's technology to consumers, business owners and investors alike.
“This is important because such an integrated autonomous retail solution does not yet exist in the local market. We want people to experience the technology firsthand and understand the real meaning of a high tech-assisted lifestyle, ”she said.
Establishing the POC will also enable Aye's engineering team to improve their services. They will then make improvements that meet the needs of local business owners and consumers alike.
Although the MCOs have made Malaysians more open to online shopping for the essentials, I believe Aye not only provides consumers with shopping, but also a new experience for consumers.
It remains to be seen what types of brands and products the Aye Smart Store will carry as this will likely determine how often customers will return when the novelty wears off.
- Find out more about Aye Solutions here.
- You can find more Malaysian startups here.
Selected image source: Yee Yun Lim, founder of Aye Solutions / Touch To Go at Akabane Station, Japan