Amazon just unveiled a grocery store without lines or checkout counters. Amazon Go, a 1800-square-foot retail space located in the company’s hometown of Seattle, lets shoppers just grab the items they want and leave; the order gets charged to their Amazon account afterwards.
Amazon Go works by using computer vision and sensors to detect what items you’re taking out of the store. You start by scanning an app as you enter the Amazon Go shop. You do your normal shopping, and the sensors throughout the store identify the items in your cart and charge them to your account when you walk out the door. It’ll feel like shoplifting, except you’re actually being watched by more cameras than you can imagine.
The shop will stock most items you’d find in a local convenience store: snacks, drinks, premade food like salads and sandwiches, and grocery essentials like bread and milk. It’ll also sell Blue Apron-like meal kits that let you cook your own dinners for two.
On the consumer level, the benefits are obvious — no waiting in line or fussing around with self-checking machines. But for Amazon, the company could potentially track you and your phone as you browse the store to track items you buy. By looking at your movements in the store as you shop, Amazon could analyze items you may have noticed or were potentially interested in buying (i.e., picking something up off a shelf and putting it back down.) Combine this with your Amazon.com browsing activities and the company could gear up to serve even more recommended products wherever you’re online.
Though Amazon Go does do away with human cashiers, we haven’t seen anything about robots physically stocking the store, so while it does eliminate some jobs, it’s not a completely automated system... at least, not yet.
The store is currently open in beta to Amazon employees only. A public opening is scheduled for early 2017.