SAN FRANCISCO — Amazon Go, the Amazon convenience store that aims to remove a persistent frustration for shoppers by eliminating the checkout line, is coming to San Francisco and Chicago.
The Seattle Amazon Go store, in the first floor of its headquarters, was open to staff for a year as Amazon worked the kinks out of its proprietary technology, made up of hundreds of cameras and sensors that allowed customers to swap an app on their phone, walk into the store and grab their items, and just walk out — without talking to a cashier or swiping bar codes.
Amazon is now hiring for managers for similar stores in San Francisco and Chicago.
To shop in the Seattle store, which is about the size of a 7-Eleven, customers must first download the Amazon Go app and link it to a payment method. Then they open the app on their phone and scan it at one of the four turnstiles to enter the 1,800 square foot store.
Once inside, cameras in the ceiling, sensors on the shelves and a massive amount of computing power track every item they pick up and what goes into their pockets or bags.
As they move through the store, each item is added to their digital tab. If they pick something up but then put it back, the store knows it and removes the item from their virtual shopping basket.
To check out — there’s a reason it’s called Just Walk Out technology. You just walk out.
The Seattle stores features ready-made sandwiches, salads and other lunch items as well as drinks, desserts and snacks. In addition there is a small grocery and sundry section, ready-to-heat meals, meal kits, beer and wine and a few shelves of Amazon-logo gear aimed at tourists.
It serves as a remarkably fast in-and-out experience for those looking to quickly grab and go. So much so that some visitors boast of being able to go in, grab lunch and be out in under a minute. There are no checkout lines and no checkout counters, though staff hover helpfully to aid new customers who are hesitant about how it all works.
For now, the experience remains something of a novelty, still attracting tourists to the Seattle location six months after opening. But curiosity also followed when Amazon opened its first bookstore in 2016. It now has 15 across the nation, with three more coming.
The actual Amazon Go store is extremely tech-heavy, was expensive to build and can only sell a narrow range of specially-selected items — nowhere near the 50,000 or so items a typical supermarket stocks. But with time that could change, making the possibility of a true revolution in the way we interact with brick and mortar stores something the retail world might have to contend with in the not too distant future.
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