No cashiers, no hassle and a lot of cameras watching you shop. Amazon opened an 1,800-square foot convenience store, dubbed Amazon Go, in New York City, Monday, May 6. The store touts the ability for customers to grab items with “no lines and no check out.”
“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,” Amazon states on its Amazon Go FAQs. “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. A little later, we’ll send you a receipt and charge your Amazon account.”
The stores are packed with sandwiches, ready-to-eat breakfast, lunch and dinner and tons of snack options. The selection ranges from grocery items such as bread and milk to meal kits. To shop at Amazon Go, customers must have an Amazon account and a recent model iPhone or Android device. The store will automatically charge customers for the items they choose as they walk out the store with the product. Customers don’t even have to pull out their phone.
“We asked ourselves ‘what if we could create a shopping experience with no lines and no checkout?’” Amazon wrote on its FAQs page. “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.”
There are currently store locations in Chicago, San Francisco and Seattle in addition to the New York City store.
Instead of cashiers, the store uses employees to restock the shelves and do other tasks for customer convenience, according to the New York Times.
“Store employees mill about ready to help customers find items, and there is a kitchen next door with chefs preparing meals for sale in the store,” the New York Times reported. “ Because there are no cashiers, an employee sits in the wine and beer section of the store, checking I.D.s before customers can take alcohol off the shelves.”
The first store officially opened in Seattle in January 2018. The store features electronic gates, much like a subway station, and you must have the app downloaded on your phone to enter, according to Food and Wine.
Apparently, shoplifting is also a non-issue for Amazon. “As the Times found when they tried it, shoplifting seems just about impossible here, because Amazon is watching with arrays of hundreds of small cameras above store shelves,” Food and Wine reported. “The cameras are able to analyze what items you’re putting in and taking out of the bag, which should make things convenient, provided you’re okay with hundreds of cameras analyzing your every move through the store.”
No definitive answer from Amazon indicates that there are plans for more Amazon Go stores, but this is the second store to open since April 2019.