Amazon has launched its own grocery store in Seattle, as the commerce giant looks to shine a light on a new “checkout free” shopping experience.
Located at 2131 7th Ave, Amazon Go is limited to a new 1,800 square feet of retail space and is only open to the company’s employees during the beta program, but it is expected to open to the public in early 2017.
To use the service, install the Amazon Go app, log in with your account credentials, and then simply put goods from the shelves in your bag and walk out. It’s not entirely clear how it separates shoplifters from Amazon Go users, but presumably it uses facial-recognition technology to match you with your account, and represents a significant advance in the offline shopping experience. Put a little more simply, this is pretty mind-blowing stuff.
The store and shelves are equipped with “computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning,” according to the official FAQ page, meaning it can detect when products are removed and returned to the shelves. When you leave the store, your account is charged.
Amazon explains why it created Amazon Go:
Four years ago we asked ourselves: what if we could create a shopping experience with no lines and no checkout? Could we push the boundaries of computer vision and machine learning to create a store where customers could simply take what they want and go?
Our answer to those questions is Amazon Go and Just Walk Out Shopping.
Today’s news advances Amazon’s encroachment on the brick-and-mortar world, as it has been pushing further into the physical realm in recent years. Last November, it opened its first real physical bookstore — Amazon Books — at University Village in Seattle, the company’s home city. And it has continued to open staffed pickup points at universities across the U.S.
We’re seeing physical retailers increasingly turning to technology to streamline operations. Pittsburgh-based Bossa Nova offers stores nifty little retail robots that ensure shelves are always stocked, while just last week French startup Exotec raised $3.5 million to help warehouses dispatch goods using mini robots. Elsewhere, Walmart recently introduced its own mobile payments service in the U.S., as it strives to compete with online retailers by making it easier to check out.
But what Amazon is offering here is truly futuristic stuff — and it’s pretty amazing that it has managed to develop these smarts and open a physical store without much in the way of rumors leaking in advance. The future of brick-and-mortar grocery shopping is almost here.