Inside Amazon Go: Is it the store of the future?
Everyone’s favorite online retailer just opened up something a little different than what they’re used to doing. In Seattle, the first Amazon Go store was opened, and it’s nothing like you’ve ever seen before. Being called “the store of the future”, this market has no cashiers or cash registers. In fact, no physical transaction of money takes place in the store at all. Instead, you’ll need several things to purchase your goods: an Amazon account, a recent smartphone, and the Amazon Go app. Using a complete system of cameras and sensors, Amazon is able to track every single product on its shelves. For any item you take off the shelf, it will automatically be added to your digital cart. If you decide you don’t want that item, placing the item back on the shelf will remove it from your digital cart. When you’re through shopping, you simply walk out, and your account will have been charged.
The store itself is very small, being about 1,800 square feet. It is essentially the size of a convenience store, and has about the same items as well. Currently, the store offers a wide range of products, including pre-made meals, snacks, alcohol, and other small items, but it is no replacement for a grocery store. Or, at least not yet. The point of the store is focused around speed. In the store, some of the signs say “Just Walk Out”, and it really is that simple. Before the store became open to the public, it was only available for Amazon employees. Some of them said they were able to go in, grab their lunch, and be done in less than a minute. If you wanted to test it yourself, the Amazon Go app even logs how long each visit to the store is.
Ironically, while the Amazon Go tagline is: “No lines. No checkout” , you’re probably still going to have to wait if you’re lucky enough to be able to try it out. In the opening week, there have been steady lines of people wanting to try out the “store of the future”. Some of the delay in getting people in the store are the steps needed before entering. Most people don’t know you need to have downloaded the app and have signed in to your Amazon account, which can hold up the lines.
If you’re wondering how they stop people from shoplifting, well, it’s practically impossible to do in the first place. On the ceiling of the store, there are wall-mounted cameras that are keeping watch at all times. Once you are in the store, your Amazon account is linked to the stores digital infrastructure, so anything you try to steal would just be automatically linked to your account, and you would be charged for it.
While it has been touted as the store of the future, many critics are saying otherwise. The opening of the this store was delayed for about a year, due to Amazon struggling to get the technology just right. Many grocery stores have implemented self-checkout, which has the customer scan their own items, then pay at the kiosk. If large grocery stores were to implement the technology Amazon is utilizing with their Go stores, the endeavor would be monumental, not to mention expensive.
Despite this, Amazon Go stores are a new and exciting look into the future of how we shop. While visiting the store may be difficult for us San Diegan’s due to its location in Seattle, Amazon plans to continually explore new ways it can implement its shopping technology in other place around the country.