Amazon opened its first retail storefront on Monday, January 22. The convenience store is located at 2131 7th Ave. in Seattle, and sells grocery items, ready-to-eat meals, and quick-meal kits – and of course features items from Whole Foods, who Amazon owns.
What makes this store so unique is that there are no checkout lines. You scan the Amazon Go app on your smart phone at the door, which will open the barrier gates to allow you into the store. (No app, no entrance.) Once inside, you shop by taking an item off the shelf and placing it in your bag. The item is automatically added to the cart in your online account.
How? Hundreds of cameras around the store and weight sensors on the shelves can see and identify which products you pick up. And if you decide you do not want an item you picked up, place it back on the shelf and the technology will remove the item from your online cart.
When you’re finished, “Just Walk Out” through the gates and you’re done. Amazon will send an electronic receipt to your Amazon Go app. There are no cashiers, and no waiting in long checkout lines. The store still has employees though. People are needed to restock shelves, prepare meal kits, and to check IDs in the alcoholic beverages section.
This sounds like some really interesting technology and an amazing new experience. Personally, I have some questions about how it works. Like what happens if the technology makes a mistake and charges me for something I didn’t buy? Can I scan my app to open the gate and have a friend walk in right behind me? And can that friend then get stuff for “free” or will it charge my account….or someone else’s? How does it know to put the items I pick up into my account? How much information are they colleting about each consumer’s purchase? And are cashier’s days’ numbered?
Time will tell how well it works, and what Amazon decides to do with it. There’s speculation of them implementing the technology in Whole Foods stores, opening other retail stores around the country, and of selling the technology to other retailers.