Could you shop without paying?

29th January 2018

Monday 22nd of January saw the launch of the first checkout free grocery store.

Amazon has opened its first checkout-free grocery store to the public on Monday, moving forward with an experiment that could dramatically alter conventional shopping. After nearly a year's worth of delays, Amazon have publicly opened its new grocery store.

The new Amazon store to be known as Amazon Go is Amazon's first automated grocery store relying on sensors, camera and tracking technology to identify what customers take off the shelves and what they put back. Standard checkouts have been ditched and the store will instead be using 'just walk out' technology that promises to end queues and cut down on shopping times with “no lines, no checkouts and no registers". Customers will be billed after leaving the store using a credit or debit card that is linked to their Amazon account.

To start shopping customers will need to scan the Amazon Go app from their smart phones as they pass through the store's turnstiles. If a customer leaves that store they will do so through the turnstiles again at which point the account of the file will be charged for the items. When a customer picks an item from the shelf it is added to their virtual basket, but if they change their mind and place the item back on the shelf it is removed from their basket.

The idea behind the store has been in the pipeline for over 4 years now, with a “convenience style" store being opened in late 2016 for Amazon employees as a testing phase, with hopes for the publicly open store coming in early 2017. However, Gianna Purerini vice-president of Amazon Go said “The store worked very well throughout the testing phase thanks to hours of legwork. The technology didn't exist; it was really advancing the state of the art computer vision and machine learning". The store is now open to the public and will really test whether the technology can deliver after reports that the automated check-out systems weren't working as planned early in 2017.

Amazon Go shop front

The new Amazon Go stored opened in Seattle on Monday, the 1800 square foot store is located in the middle of Amazon's Seattle campus, with the Global retail giant opening into another new area and progressing on from their purchase of the supermarket chain Whole foods, are these stores something that we can expect to see opening up in the UK?

Currently, Amazon has not openly discussed if or when they plan to open more stores in different locations. According to the U.S Department of Labour, more than 3.5 million people in America hold cashier jobs, with nearly 900,000 of these working in supermarkets and grocery shops. With the Amazon Go store being an automated store it eliminates the need for cashiers and could make thousands of jobs redundant if the idea were to take off. Amazon Go does hire people to work in the store, a team of "associates" who prep ingredients, make prepared items, greet customers and stock shelves. But still, this could prove a tricky subject in the future.

So is this a massive step forward towards a brighter future, a step too far into the realms of a technology run world or a brilliant gimmick and display of technology.

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