In a move to disrupt ordinary trips to buy milk, Amazon is opening its first Amazon Go convenience store in Seattle, Washinton. It will be approximately the size of a 7-11, and follows a year of beta-testing with Amazon employees. How can an ordinary trip to the corner store be revolutionized? By eliminating checkout lines.
For five years, Amazon has been developing Just Walk Out technology for this very purpose. Yes, you literally just walk out of the store without having to interact with a cashier, or even a self-checkout register. The proprietary technology, which the company has no plans to extend beyond this current project, involves hundreds of cameras around the store and the Amazon Go app.
In order to shop in the store, according to USA Today, “customers must first download the Amazon Go app and link it to a payment method. Then they open the app on their phone and scan it at the four turnstiles to enter the 1,800 square foot store.” From there, hundreds of cameras and sensors around the space track when a customer picks up an item and adds it to the person’s account. If they put the item back, no problem — the technology knows to remove it from the “cart.” When it’s time to check out, all the customer needs to do is walk out. “The store knows you’re leaving and it tallies up your items and charges your account,” said Gianna Puerini, vice president for Amazon Go. It’s that simple.
The revolutionary technology removes a major source of frustration for shoppers everywhere: having to wait in the checkout line. While there are no plans to expand this to Whole Foods, the high-end grocery store that Amazon recently purchased, the possibilities are endless if the first Amazon Go store is a success.
Since Amazon has invested so much time into this technology (a luxury that only a company on Amazon’s scale could afford), it is unlikely that any other corporation will be able to compete — at least for quite some time.