Amazon finally unveiled their first ever convenience store, Amazon Go, yesterday on January 22 in Seattle, WA. The store has no cashiers, no lines and you don’t need cash or a credit card.
Instead, you use the Amazon Go app on your phone which tracks and analyzes your every move in the store. You’re able to pick up whatever items you’d like, can leave the store without waiting and your Amazon account is charged.
Sounds like shoplifting would be easy right? Think again. In order to access the store, you have to tap your Amazon Go app on your way in and will be tracked from there. You aren’t able to enter the store without the Amazon Go app, tapping your phone at a subway like turnstile at the entrance
The concept of the store was announced back in December of 2016. The store was originally supposed to open in early 2017 but due to technical limitations, Amazon was forced to delay their Grand Opening. Since then, the issues seem to have been resolved as Amazon has finally opened the store.
According to IHL Group analyst, Jerry Sheldon, the assortment of items consists mainly of ready to eat items such as prepackages foods, drinks and comments. Along with other press members, Sheldon received a tour of the store by Amazon’s VP of technology before the grand opening.
It is estimated by Sheldon that around 30% of products consist of Amazon’s own Go private brand. Products inluce snacks prepared on site as well as ready to eat sandwiches. Due to Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods in 2017, the store also features Whole Foods items. Other offerings include gluten-free and vegan items which are labeled on shelf tags.
Amazon has it’s own branded meal kits available in the store as well. They are made by chefs who are employed by Amazon and each meal can take around 30 minutes to prep. According to Sheldon, the kits can cost anywhere between $16 – $20 and contains food enough for two people.
Throughout the visit, the store tracks the items you pick up using sensors, cameras and weight scales on some of the shelves. When the technology of the store notices you have picked up an item, it will add that item to your cart in the Amazon Go app. In the process, it updates Amazon’s own inventory as well.
The VP of technology for Amazon, Kumar, has said that even though cameras track shopper movements, they do not use facial recognition.
Even though the store doesn’t require any lines or checkout, there are still store associates available for help. They are there to check someone’s ID for alcohol purchases or to answer any question that the technology can not.
The Amazon Go app takes customers through a tutorial after signing in with an Amazon Prime account. The app allows customers to let friends and family in the shop with them as well. The tutorial of the app asks customers, however, not to take items from the shelf and hand them to someone else. The sensors in the store will put the item in the virtual cart of whoever originally grabbed the item.
Once the tutorial has been completed, you’re brought to the home page which displays store hours and a QR code that allows you to enter the store. The app consists of four different pages you can navigate through at the bottom of the app. They are as followed:
- Discover, detailing products available in store
- Receipts, displaying past purchases
- About, offering more information about Amazon Go & product
- More, containing account settings and FAQ’s
According to Kumar, there are currently no plans to use the Amazon Go technology at Whole Foods locations. Kumar was also asked whether or not the technology would be sold to third parties to which he said there are no current plans.