Does Amazon Really Think Eliminating Lines at Checkout Will Safe Grocery Stores?

Amazon Go

What, exactly, Amazon is planning with the company’s grocery stores/pick up locations remains a mystery. Especially considering the (compared to other alternatives) high costs of rolling out those locations.

The mystery just got more puzzling. Now, Amazon has rolled out the (internal) beta phase of a new app called Go that could become the center of a new kind of stores. TechCrunch:

The straight-forwardly named “Just Walk Out” technology ought to give you a pretty good idea of what Amazon Go is all about. Launching in beta this year to Amazon employees at a single 1,800 square foot location in its native Seattle, Go is a “new kind of store with no checkout required.”

Customers use the Go app to enter the store, and once inside, some combination of sensors, computer vision and deep learning keep track of what’s taken off and returned to shelves inside a virtual cart. Once finished, the shopper just walks out and the company charges their Amazon account, along with a receipt. […]

With Go, Amazon becomes the largest presence in a recent trend to remove the lines (and human aspect) of checkout from the grocery shopping process, including Selfycart and, more prominently, Instacart, which has announced its intentions to move in that direction. The store will be open to all Amazon customers at some point early next year.

You can watch a video by Amazon explaining the experience here.

The official website of Amazon Go provides more information:

Our checkout-free shopping experience is made possible by the same types of technologies used in self-driving cars: computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning. Our Just Walk Out technology automatically detects when products are taken from or returned to the shelves and keeps track of them in a virtual cart. When you’re done shopping, you can just leave the store. Shortly after, we’ll charge your Amazon account and send you a receipt. […]

The first (beta) store, based in Seattle, naturally, is only open to Amazon employees. Here is more info on the store from the official website:

How big is the store?

Our roughly 1,800 square feet of retail space is conveniently compact so busy customers can get in and out fast.

What do I need to get started?

All you need is an Amazon account, a supported smartphone, and the free Amazon Go app.

Why did you build Amazon Go?

Four years ago we asked ourselves: what if we could create a shopping experience with no lines and no checkout? Could we push the boundaries of computer vision and machine learning to create a store where customers could simply take what they want and go? Our answer to those questions is Amazon Go and Just Walk Out Shopping.

I’m not convinced though. Even eliminating having to stand in line makes grocery shopping only marginally better. Is this really worth it?

Hopefully, there is more at play here.

More on this topic:


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