Amazon’s no-checkout, surveillance-powered store opens today
AFTER a year of testing, Amazon is finally set to open the doors of its unmanned store in Seattle to the public.
The e-commerce giant sets to revolutionize the grocery shopping industry by allowing its shoppers to browse its aisles, pop items into a virtual basket and leave the shop without the need for waiting in line.
How does it work?
To shop in the store, which is roughly the size of a 7-Eleven, customers are required to download the Amazon Go phone app which must then be linked to a payment method.
Upon approaching the camera-filled, all-sensored store, shoppers must scan the app to enter and begin shopping.
The technology behind Amazon’s new store “Just Walk Out”, allows users to well … just walk out. It uses computer vision, deep learning algorithms, and sensor fusion to track and log what shoppers pick up from the shelves. Once customers exit the store through the transition area, the system adds up the items and charges their Amazon account, eliminating the need to go through a traditional check-out line.
While there may not be cashiers, the human touch is not totally diminished in the store. There is a team of associates in the store and its kitchen responsible for prepping ingredients, making breakfast, lunch, and dinner items, greeting customers at the door, stocking shelves, and helping shoppers. They even have an ID checker in the alcoholic beverages section (nice try, kids).
According to a Tech Crunch writer who visited the store, the selection of products available includes “grab-and-go lunches and snacks” and a variety of basic household items such as milk, coffee, and toilet paper.
For Amazon, the store offers a chance to gather a mountain of consumer data relating to product preferences and dislikes. This data can be used to improve its marketing, recommendations and promotions, as well as keeping its supply chain in line.
And for the public? Well, the store epitomizes a shopping experience of ease and convenience. But then again, with the store expecting to become a must-see attraction in the city, perhaps the expectation of a quick in-and-out shop will be destroyed by crowds of gawking tourists.
Furthermore, critics have commented on the ubiquitous personal surveillance of the Amazon Go store, questioning whether saving a few minutes of your shopping time is worth handing over your personal data.
It remains uncertain as to Amazon’s future plans and whether or not the e-commerce giant will open more stores around the globe.
“It’s too early to speculate on that,” says Amazon Go technology chief Dilip Kumar, as reported by Recode.
“For now,” he added, “we’re just focused on this store.”