Amazon Go: Amazon’s checkout-free supermarket is now open to the public
Amazon’s checkout-free supermarket, Amazon Go, will finally open its doors to members of the public after more than a year of testing with its own employees.
The project, which is designed to modernise physical retail, currently has only one store. Instead of expanding Amazon Go to new locations, Amazon will open up its doors to this Seattle branch and allow registered Amazon Go customers to use the store as their regular supermarket.
Amazon Go hopes to revolutionise shopping by scrapping checkout lines in favour of tracking customer purchases with cameras. Each product a customer takes off a shelf and places in their basket will be recorded via cameras and shelf weight sensors and then added to a virtual shopping list on the Amazon Go app. After over a year of testing, the system can recognise when a user picks up and puts back a product, automatically adding or removing it from their shopping list.
To ensure all regulations are met, an Amazon employee is sat verifying IDs for those who wish to buy alcohol or any other age-restricted products.
Once a user is done shopping, they simply just leave the store and have their basket automatically deducted from their account.
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If this public opening becomes a success for Amazon, supermarkets around the world can begin to fear Amazon’s next big move. Having already disrupted high-street shopping quite dramatically thanks to its rise, specifically targeting physical supermarkets means Amazon can move into traditional retail as well. Only last year Amazon bought Whole Foods Market for $13.7bn and then promptly slashed its prices to make them more palatable to a wider audience.
Amazon used its purchase to distribute Amazon goods into retail and set up a distribution channel via physical stores. It also means Amazon is in a great position to roll out the same tech found in the Seattle Amazon Go store to thousands of locations worldwide within a relatively short time frame.
Initially, Amazon planned to have Amazon Go available to all members of the public from early 2017, after having launched the store for Amazon employees in late 2016. However, things haven’t gone smoothly, with cameras having issues differentiating similar-looking customers from one another and struggling to identify items when put back in the wrong place – especially by younger shoppers who entered with adults.
Thankfully, it seems like those problems have worked themselves out and Amazon is ready to advance to public testing. However, Amazon isn’t the only player looking at checkout-free shopping, Barclays has already stated its intentions to create a service for retailers that are very similar to Amazon’s approach. The benefit of Barclay’s checkout-less stores is that it won’t single-handedly ruin the brick and mortar grocery market, instead, it’ll help support retailers as we shift to a checkout-less environment.