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Airport retailer OTG will use Amazon's cashierless technology starting next week

Sarah Perez

Earlier this week, Amazon announced it will now sell its cashierless technology, dubbed "Just Walk Out," to other retailers. Today, airport hospitality group OTG, which operates more than 350 restaurants and retail locations in North American airports, revealed it will be one of the first retailers to adopt Amazon's tech in its own stores. The first store, a CIBO Express Gourmet Market, will open next week (March 16) in Newark Liberty's Terminal C.

This will be followed by additional stores in both Newark Liberty and LaGuardia airports, OTG says.

OTG today operates more than 100 "CIBO Express Gourmet Markets" across 10 major North American airports. The stores stock items like ready-made and fresh foods, health and beauty items, gifts and electronics.

Shoppers will enter the new, tech-enabled store in the Newark airport by first swiping their credit card.

Then, Amazon's Just Walk Out system uses a combination of cameras, shelf sensors, computer vision and deep learning techniques to identify when an item has been removed from the shelf or rack and by which customer. After being picked up, the item is added to the customer's "virtual cart." And if it's returned to the shelf, it's removed from that cart. When the shopper leaves the store, they're automatically charged for the items they bought.

In Amazon's own stores, Amazon Go and Amazon Go Grocery, the technology allows staff to focus on other tasks besides checking out customers, like restocking shelves, greeting customers or answering questions, among other things.

In the CIBO Express Gourmet Market stores, however, the focus is more on speeding up transactions -- a critical need when travelers are dashing between gates to make connections and have limited time to shop.

According to OTG CEO Rick Blatstein, the company is always looking for ways to make shopping its stores a frictionless experience.

"We’re incredibly proud to be integrating Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology into the OTG airport experience," said Blatstein, in a statement. "OTG has always embraced technology as a means of optimizing the airport experience so that we can give our guests their time back. By using the world’s most advanced shopping technology in our CIBO Express Gourmet Markets, we’re doing just that by putting our guests in full control of their time," he said.

With the OTG deal, Amazon will also have a high-profile example of how its technology can work to create a better checkout experience for shoppers outside of its own Amazon Go-branded stores, where it can tolerate losses or make adjustments to the tech without anyone knowing. In other words, it will serve as a proving ground for the technology's readiness to scale in a real-world retail environment that's not Amazon's own.

"Starting next week, travelers in the busy Newark Liberty Terminal C will no longer have to assess store lines to determine if they can quickly grab that snack, bottle of water, or travel essential they need before their flight," said Dilip Kumar, vice president, Physical Retail & Technology at Amazon, in a statement. "OTG’s CIBO Express Gourmet Markets featuring Just Walk Out technology will let them quickly grab what they need and get on their way without standing in line to check out. We can’t wait to hear how travelers like the experience," he added.