The least fun part of grocery shopping is the checkout, so Amazon’s going for an overhaul. Welcome to Amazon Go, the store with no tills and plenty of exits.
Welcome to Seattle, Amazon’s canary down a mine. It was here last year that the e-commerce giant trialled a tangible book store – which was like dredging up the corpse of a body you drowned in a lake 20 years before, and trying to make it dance – but today, it’s going grocery.
Amazon Go is a real, bricks-and-mortar store that’s currently in beta mode. Why technological terms such as beta? Well, Amazon’s variation on the grocery store theme marries the online with the in-person experience.
In short, users pop around to Amazon Go and just pick their items up off the shelves. With no checkouts, they then just stroll on out the door and carry on with their lives. They’re digitally monitored throughout, and are only charged when they’ve left the store.
Amazon calls the process a ‘just walk out shopping’ experience, with “no lines, no checkout. (No, seriously.)”
The company claims the service is made possible by the same types of technologies used in self-driving cars: computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning.
“Our ‘just walk out’ technology automatically detects when products are taken from or returned to the shelves and keeps track of them in a virtual cart,” said the company.
“When you’re done shopping, you can just leave the store. Shortly after, we’ll charge your Amazon account and send you a receipt.”
The store appears to have enough food options to satisfy most people, with pre-made meals, standard groceries and a team of “in-house chefs”.
At the start of the year, Amazon revealed plans to invest in expanding its warehouses and delivery network in Europe, along with its R&D capabilities, and building new infrastructure to support its cloud-computing business.
This followed the opening of AmazonFresh warehouses and delivery services in the US in recent years, one of Amazon’s earliest attempts to get into the fresh produce industry.
Amazon Go is something of a mix between all of its previous efforts.