Amazon launches automated, cashier-free store

Amazon launches automated, cashier-free store

For the last couple of years, the retail world has been tantalized by rumours of completely automated stores being developed, tested and trialled overseas. Now, these walk-in vending machines have become a credible reality with the launch of the first Amazon Go store in Seattle.

The Amazon Go store in Seattle opened today. At roughly 167 square metres, it’s a convenience-style small supermarket targeting shoppers seeking ready-to-eat meals, plus grocery essentials and Amazon Meal Kits.

Staff are on-site to prepare ingredients, make ready-to-eat food, stock shelves and assist customers, but ‘Just Walk Out’ technology means that there are no checkouts. Instead, shoppers with a pre-existing Amazon account and a recent-generation iPhone or Android phone can download the Amazon Go app, pick up the products they want and leave. Their Amazon account is charged automatically and they’re sent a receipt.

Of the technology behind the store, Amazon says:

“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.”

The company introduced the Amazon Go concept in December 2016 and beta tested it in a store exclusively for Amazon employees for more than a year, according to Statista. Statista’s data indicates that while the majority of US shoppers trust Amazon’s technology and would be willing to try it out, they’re not interested in paying a premium for the checkout-free experience.

You will find more statistics at Statista

Swedish entrepreneur Robert Illijason beat Amazon to the goal of opening the world’s first cashier-less grocery store in 2016. In the small Swedish town of Viken, Illijason has set up an independent convenience store run by an app, which controls the lock on its door and scans purchases. 

This story first appeared at The Register.

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