Amazon yesterday opened their first checkout free grocery store to the public. The store, named Amazon Go and located in Seattle, USA comes after four years of testing and legwork by the Internet retail giant.
So how does it work?
The store has a companion app that customers scan at the entrance in order to get in, and then uses a wide range of sensors, cameras and machine learning to detect when items are picked up from shelves. To start shopping, customers must scan an Amazon Go smartphone app and pass through a gated turnstile. If someone passes back through the gates with an item, his or her associated account is charged. If a shopper puts an item back on the shelf, Amazon removes it from his or her virtual cart.
The technology is able to rectify an indecisive shoppers’ bill when items are put back on shelves but some human staff will also be on hand to ensure everything runs smoothly, as well as carrying out necessary tasks such as confirming age when a customer wants to buy alcohol
The future of retail?
The convenience-style shop opened to Amazon employees back in December 2016 in a test phase. At the time, the company said it expected members of the public could begin using the store in early 2017. The store had many teething issues during its initial testing phase including correctly identifying shoppers with similar body types and when children were brought into the shop during the trial, they caused havoc by moving items.
The store marks Amazon’s second foray into the world of grocery retail after buying the high-end supermarket chain Whole Foods Market last year for $13.7bn (£9.9bn). As yet Amazon has not announced any plans to open further Go stores or apply the system to existing, larger, more complex Wholefood Stores.