Some have said that delivery of everyday items via cheap, autonomous methods is the future of retail. Some say that it lies in faster checkout. Others believe that retail won't change much going forward. Amazon has a different idea entirely; grab what you want, and "Just Walk Out". The goods at Amazon's new Amazon Go convenience store aren't free, and you aren't being encouraged to steal them; rather, Amazon has devised a shopping method that allows customers to simply grab what they want and walk out, confident that they'll be receiving an accurate and itemized invoice to their Amazon account when it's all said and done.
The way it all works is via machine learning and AI. Essentially, the cameras and sensors in the store can figure out when something has been removed or placed on the shelf, what the item is, and who did it. In order to enter the store, customers have to use a specialized Amazon Go app that identifies them as a qualifying customer and links their Amazon account to their in-store activities for easy billing. At the store, customers will find all sorts of quick eats and grocery essentials, ranging from name-brand to local and organic fare. When a customer has grabbed their grub, they simply walk out with it all, and their Amazon account is charged, generating a receipt.
The inaugural Amazon Go store is currently in beta, and the Washington location is currently only open to Amazon employees. The 1,800 square foot retail space is fraught with all kinds of sensing equipment, but things can still go wrong, like items not being detected when they're put back, or taken items being attributed to the wrong customer. That's why the new store is employees-only for now, and is expected to open up to the public early in 2017, though Amazon did not give an exact time frame. This project is four years in the making and took a lot of manpower and technical know-how, so it's likely to expand, so long as the original store succeeds; in theory, the store is theft-proof, quick, and easy. With no cashiers to pay and no stock shrink to worry about, prices are likely to be competitive, as well. If you live in the Seattle area and would like to be notified when the store is ready for the public to peruse, simply head through the source link and sign up.