Customers walk in, take what they want and then walk out — it gives a new meaning to the term convenience store.
No lines, no checkout. The Amazon Go supermarket, set to revolutionise physical shopping, will open its doors to the Seattle public on Monday.
It has been in testing since 2016, and finally the company is confident it has ironed out all the kinks.
What separates Amazon Go from your run-of-the-mill convenience store is that there is no apparent transaction. Customers bag their groceries and then simply walk out.
After shoppers (who need to have an Amazon account and the Amazon Go app) check in by scanning their unique QR code, ceiling-mounted cameras work with weight sensors in the shelves to precisely track which items they pick up and take with them.
Purchases are then billed to their accounts when they exit the store, and a receipt is sent to the app.
The company says the tracking technology is accurate enough to distinguish between multiple people standing at the same shelf, and will cancel an item if you pick it up and then put it back.
The idea is to “push the boundaries of computer vision and machine learning” to create an “effortless experience for customers,” said Dilip Kumar, Amazon Go vice president of technology, after giving GeekWire a tour of the store this past week.
New York Times journalist Nick Wingfield, found that the new system is likely to eliminate theft.
“Actual shoplifting is not easy at Amazon Go. With permission from Amazon, I tried to trick the store’s camera system by wrapping a shopping bag around a $4.35 four-pack of vanilla soda while it was still on a shelf, tucking it under my arm and walking out of the store. Amazon charged me for it,” he wrote.
Of course if the technology succeeds and takes off, jobs will be slashed too. A serious concern for some 3.5 million cashiers in the US.
Amazon didn’t comment on that long-term scenario, but said it is currently finding new roles for its employees.
“We’ve just put associates on different kinds of tasks where we think it adds to the customer experience,” explained Gianna Puerini, the executive in charge of Amazon Go.