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China's AI-powered corner store goes global

Humanless in Jakarta. Photo: JD.com

In May, we reported that China's tech giants are sharing their secret sauce with mom-and-pop shops around the country, helping them join the digital revolution with state-of-the-art artificial intelligence and e-commerce technologies.

What's next: The Chinese are taking their digitalization-in-a-box concept abroad — with the potential to fuel a grassroots retail revolution beyond China.

In a brewing war, China's retail giants are vying for the Southeast Asian market, with its super-high population density and lack of local retail competition.

  • On one front, JD.com, China's wildly popular online retailer, is opening an unmanned, high-tech shop in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta.
  • Customers walk in, grab what they need, and walk out. AI and facial recognition technology handles the checkout process automatically.
  • This is JD's first such store outside China, and the company wants to open more — as well as sell its retrofit kit to local Jakarta storekeepers who also want to digitize.

Why it matters: Amazon has developed and deployed unmanned retail technology in its Go store in Seattle. The difference is that JD and Alibaba are marketing their high-tech solutions to anyone who wants them.

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