One year later than planned, leading online trader Amazon has opened a cashier-less store in Seattle, where customers can pick up their groceries without having to pass by a till.
It was at the end of 2016 that Amazon announced that it would be opening an AI-powered 170m² grocery store in Seattle early the following year, after tests conducted with the aid of its employees. One year on, the Amazon Go store has finally opened following a series of technical glitches. The result of what the company describes as the most advanced queue-free shopping technology in the world, the store is hooked up to the free Amazon Go mobile app, which launched for iPhone and Android on 21 January.
A system inspired by self-driving cars
Downloading the app beforehand, customers use their mobile device to check in at the front of the store using a QR code. This allows the store’s AI to track the items the shopper picks up when they enter the sales floor. When they have what they need customers can simply walk out of the store, with the total value of their purchases being charged to their Amazon account.
The system has been made possible by the same type of technologies as those used in self-driving cars, namely sensors connected to AI (machine learning). Though Amazon is aiming to offer a completely fluid and transparent technology experience, some of the customers who took part in testing said the cameras on the ceiling were too visible for their liking.
Amazon moves into conventional store market
The Amazon Go is not the online giant’s first actual store. In 2015 it opened a bookstore in Seattle, the city that is home to its headquarters, followed by others around the country, including a New York store in May 2017.
Amazon also bought Whole Foods, the US supermarket chain specialising in organic food, in June 2017, a purchase that was not popular with conventional traders.
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