Amazon’s attempt to remake shopping as we know it will take a major step forward today, when members of the public will get their first chance to shop in the Amazon Go convenience store. The store, which has been open to Amazon employees since 2016, uses advanced technology to let shoppers walk in, take what they want off the shelf, then leave — without waiting in line for a cashier.
Shoppers gain entry to the Amazon Go store, located below Amazon’s offices in downtown Seattle, using a smartphone app. Then a mix of cameras, sensors and artifical intelligence keeps track of what they take off the shelves. When shoppers walk out with their purchases, the system automatically charges them. The store is otherwise modeled on a convenience store, offering takeaway food like salads and sandwiches, meal kits for home preparation and an array of beverages.
Though the cameras and sensors run the front lines, Recode reports that human staffers are still keeping an eye on things from behind the scenes as they system is perfected. But it has already shown that it’s powerful, identifying shoppers’ identities even when they’re in costume.
Amazon is widely expected to build more Go stores if the public opening of the first one goes well. That will accelerate the behemoth’s expansion from e-commerce into brick-and-mortar retail, which already includes its acquisition of Whole Foods last year, and its more tentative experiment with physical bookstores. Speculation has also begun to swirl about a possible acquisition of Target.