Monday was the first day that Amazon’s new checkout-less convenience store, Amazon Go, opened to the public, and shopping is even easier than online. There is no tedious clicking or scrolling, no banner ads to negotiate nor passwords to remember. Simply present the Amazon Go app at the gates and start shopping.
The range is typical of a 7-Eleven: a few essential groceries and toiletries but mostly snacks, breakfast items, sandwiches and salads. After a shopper walks through the gate, a bank of cameras and other sensors in the ceiling tracks her progress through the store. When an item is picked up, the same cameras recognise it and add it to the visitor’s virtual shopping cart. Ten minutes after the shopper walks out the door, the app charges a credit card and provides a digital receipt.
On day one, the system was in full working order. I tried picking up and replacing a salad or two, then quickly slipped a box of tissues into my bag. The shop was not fooled. The app came up with the correct total, and even told me exactly how long I had spent inside, to the nearest second.
That speed and convenience is what Amazon Go’s Just Walk Out Shopping is all about, says the company. It was easy to identify the company’s employees, who have had access to the experimental shop for over a year. They rushed in, grabbed what they needed and were out again in less than 30 seconds.
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