Amazon’s New Cashier-Less Grocery Store Opened Today. Here’s a Look Inside.
Amazon's march toward retail (and world) domination took one giant leap forward on Monday, when the company opened its very first automated and cashier-less convenience store to the public. The first-ever Amazon Go store, located in downtown Seattle, allows customers to simply walk in, take items from the store shelves, and walk out without waiting in line or even scanning products in a self-check out.
The debut store is the realization of a groundbreaking concept five years in the making (though first announced back in late 2016). Instead of paying at a register or other traditional retail checkout methods, customers' Amazon accounts are automatically charged via a series of sensors and cameras that track what they take from the shelves. It's just another ambitious way the company is trying to make shopping (and spending money) even easier.
The mega e-tailer has been testing Amazon Go for a while now with its employees, who've had "beta" access to this particular location for the past year. However, now that any old schmo can walk in off the street, people are naturally wondering -- what's it like to shop there, and are things running as smoothly as promised? Fortunately, you don't have to hop a flight to the Pacific Northwest, because photos and videos from its earliest customers are pouring in.
In order to eliminate the need for checkout lines, customers first scan a special Amazon Go app to gain access to the store, then wander and pluck what they want from shelves. The store then tracks what you walk out with by collecting data via special in-shelf sensors and hundreds of cameras in the ceiling.
At the moment, the selection is limited to the sort of fare you'd find in a more up-market 7-Eleven, with things like ready-to-eat salads, sandwiches, snacks, beer/wine, and even some produce, meat, and its own pre-packaged meal kits.
Note the form chosen for the cameras in the Amazon Go store - camouflaged and near-featureless. Imagine how replacing them all with traditional CCTV cameras would change the space, and its effect on people. The continual bait-and-switch of convenience for privacy. pic.twitter.com/wJrLVoORco— Wesley Goatley (@wesleygoatley) January 22, 2018
There may not be any cashiers working, but there are a small army of employees roaming around to ensure things are running smoothly.
While Amazon hasn't publicly announced if or where it will open another Amazon Go location(s), it's safe to assume the company will continue to test this sort of automated operation elsewhere and for some time. Considering its recent acquisitions and rumors, it also wouldn't be too shocking to see a cashier-less Whole Foods or Target concept at some point in the near future.
Who knows, this may just be the first glimpse at what shopping in the real world will look like one day.