The premise of Amazon's new cashier-less grocery store, Amazon Go, is that automation enables customers to walk in, shop, and leave the premises without ever interacting with a human employee (it's a hermit's shopping fantasy come to life). An ungodly amount of technology -- mainly cameras and sensors -- allow the store to charge customers for their groceries by tracking the items as they're removed from the shelves.
It's a hifalutin concept five-years in the making, but kinks in Amazon Go's presumably foolproof armor are already starting to show. Reporting on the unveiling of Amazons Go's first outpost in Seattle, Deirdre Bosa of CNBC noticed that she wasn't charged for an item as she departed the store. This means, barring any late charges she accrues from the company, she's Amazon Go's first shoplifter, which is a huge milestone for petty theft!
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Her tweets and confusion point to an interesting gray area: What constitutes shop lifting in a store that essentially requires people to pick things off shelves, place them in their bags, and walk away?
It's not like Bosa made it out with a bounty of loot. She was charged for the "cookies, snap peas and Amazon-branded drinkware" she bought, but one item -- a single serving of Siggi's yogurt -- went undetected.
Siggi's responded, saying it would foot the uncharged yogurt bill, although an Amazon executive later admitted it was a snafu on the mega-retailer's part.
"First and foremost, enjoy the yogurt on us," VP of Amazon Go Gianna Puerini told CNBC. "It happens so rarely that we didn't even bother building in a feature for customers to tell us it happened. So thanks for being honest and telling us. I've been doing this a year and I have yet to get an error."
Peurini also said the company has no intention to introduce the cashier-less technology at Whole Foods at the moment. Being that Amazon Go has only been open to the public since Monday, that's probably a good thing, given the multitudes of free yogurt that might be flying off the shelves as a result.
[Grub Street via CNBC]
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