(Yicai Global) Jan. 24 -- Alibaba Group Ltd.'s fintech arm Ant Financial Services has opened its first staffless retail store at its headquarters in Hangzhou, just a few days after its counterpart Tencent Holdings Ltd. debuted an unmanned outlet in Shanghai.
Ant Financial is using the outlet, dubbed WithAnt, as a testing lab for new unstaffed retail technology, online news outlet TechWeb reported.
Visitors to Ant Financial's shop, which sells branded company merchandise, scan a QR code linked to mobile payment system Alipay when entering. Sensors on shelves records prices of items that visitors choose and automatically charges the amount when they leave the store,
Developers are working to install sensors in shoes so that customers can enter the store without scanning an Alipay code. "In the future, people will go shopping without carrying wallets and even needing to bring smartphones," an Ant Financial employee said.
Alibaba rival Tencent unveiled its first unstaffed retail store in Shanghai on Jan. 20, which works almost exactly the same as WithAnt, with customers using WeChat Pay instead of Alipay. The two platforms are China's most commonly used mobile payment methods, with a combined market share of over 90 percent.
The two internet giants are not the only players in the unmanned retail store market. Amazon.Com Inc. opened its first unstaffed convenience store in Seattle on Jan 21.