Welcome to the convenience shopping economy.
Amazon earned its e-commerce bona fides more than 20 years ago by reducing the checkout process to a single click. The company’s new Amazon Go store, in downtown Seattle, represents a similar revolution. Gianna Puerini and Dilip Kumar have redesigned the neighbourhood grocery as a cashier-free experience.
Shoppers identify themselves (and their Amazon account) by scanning their phones upon entering. Ceiling-mounted cameras and Ai software identify items as they’re removed from shelves—and shoppers simply leave when they’re done. People queued up around the block when Go opened in January 2018 in Seattle. Amazon is reportedly planning to open up to six more by 2019, and the “just walk out” concept has already been cloned in China.
Amazon Go works like—well, like a physical manifestation of Amazon’s 1-Click checkout, where you “click” by taking an item off a shelf. On arrival, you launch the Go app, which comes out today for iPhones and Android phones and connects to your Amazon account. It displays a 2D code that you scan at one of several glass security gates. The code identifies you to the store and opens the gate. (You can also check in other people—a spouse, a kid, a friend—whose purchases will be added to your tab.) Once you’re in, AI algorithms start to track you and everything you pick up and keep. You can bag your items as you go if you so choose, and need interact with an employee only if you’re buying alcohol, in which case an associate standing in the liquor area will check your ID.