Amazon opens first cashier-less store

If you're a privacy fanatic, Amazon Go not the technology for you. But the payoff — no checkout queues — is rather brilliant.

Up until now, it hasn’t been immediately clear why Amazon spent $US13 billion buying the Whole Foods supermarket chain in the US last year or opened a handful of its own stores.

Now, it’s glaringly obvious.

Today Amazon opened its first store to the public that uses its “just walk out” technology.

The Amazon Go store in Seattle, which is described as the size of a 7/11 convenience shop, features no cashiers.

Instead, you just pull items off the shelves and, when you’re finished shopping, just walk out the door.

The proprietary technology is based on an Amazon Go app, which you download to your phone, then swipe as you walk in through a turnstile.

Hundreds of cameras and shelf-sensors then monitor you as you shop, backed by a tonne of computing power. If you pick up an item, Amazon Go adds it to your account. If you put it back, it subtracts it.

If you're a privacy fanatic, this is obviously not the technology for you. But the payoff – no checkout queues – is rather brilliant (although, ironically, the novelty and hype of today's opening caused queues outside the "non-queue" store.

The Amazon Go launch has been delayed several times after an extended staff trial (the first store borders Amazon’s headquarters) and the company has indicated it doesn’t plan to extend it beyond its pilot any time soon. That indicates it's pretty tricky, even for a company with such resources.

Still, once it does go into wide release – presumably at Whole Food supermarkets – it will turn bricks-and-mortar retail on its head in the same way Amazon’s one-click checkout revolutionised e-tail, or Uber or Airbnb turned the taxi and accommodation markets on their heads.

And no doubt it will be patent-protected, too, giving Amazon several years' jump on the pack as per its patented one-click shopping online.

Amazon’s relatively low-key pre-Christmas launch in Australia has perhaps lulled local retailers into a false sense of confidence. Today’s Amazon Go launch is more evidence it shouldn’t.


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8 Comments & Questions

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It is a good idea but will have problems such as mothers bringing their kids into the store and then taking things of shelves and putting them back in different places or a person dropping an item on the floor which breaks. I think this technology will not revolutionise the grocery store. Though Amazon might find this techno!ogy is better suited to its book stores.

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I'm not familiar with the finer details, but I could imagine an Amazon Go AI automatically messaging a human drone staffer if an item is put back in the wrong place or broken.

Or, of course, they could just use the low-tech approach used by most stores today of employees manually monitoring shelves for misplaced stock etc.

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If you drop an item and. Break it you pay for it. Excellent!

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Lol brace yourselves for people not downloading the app and stealing stuff hahaha

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Puts paid to stuffing goods inside my jacket.

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This isn’t giing to work. Kids proved it quickly the first day despite Amazon “test staff” playing around for a year. Should have trialled quietly with your regular dairy crims to see how flawed their proposed system is. This is what happens when management loses sight of service drivers.

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One small store and no immediate plans to expand it means it is effectively a beta trial. 

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Time will tell whether AI is smarter than those whose intention is not to pay at all for the goods that are freely available.

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