eCommerce giant Amazon has opened up the first of its Amazon Go checkout-free stores to the public, and the company's response to a CNBC reporter's free yogurt shows how hard it actually is to intentionally shoplift from the store. Reporter Diedre Bosa spent close to 7 minutes in the store, and as it's supposed to go, she grabbed the items she wanted and walked out. A cup of Siggi yogurt was not on the receipt that she received about five minutes later. Amazon staff nearby told her that all was well and that such a glitch was extremely rare. So much so, in fact, that there is no way within the Amazon Go app to report such a thing happening. Even the yogurt brand's official Twitter account told her that the yogurt was gratis, affirming Amazon's confidence in its new system.
The ultra high-tech storefront is decked out with cameras and sensors just about everywhere. A customer has to scan their Amazon Go app to get in, which links up to their Amazon account. In order to get in, you'll have to have the app and a linked credit or debit card. The array of sensing equipment in the store can tell what's off the shelf and who has it at any given time, and though there was a single slip-up thus far, Amazon seems fairly confident such a thing won't happen often. Given the monitoring and the narrow selection of heavily monitored entrances and exits, there really is no conceivable way to get something and intentionally get out of the store without being charged. While there are no cashiers or checkouts, there are Amazon employees on hand to deal with any issues that may arise, so trying to disable sensors, hide items, or otherwise get away with stealing will end the same way it would at most other stores; getting caught.
Amazon Go opened to the public recently, after a year-long delay pending a successful closed beta test. During this period, only Amazon employees were allowed into the store, but it reportedly functioned just as it would for civilians. The system accommodates the small store rather well; everything is exactly where it should be, and if you change your mind about an item, most reports from people who've been inside say that it's less effort to put it back where it came from than to find somewhere to fit it that it doesn't belong. According to Amazon, the same technology will not be coming to its subsidiary, Whole Foods, at any time in the foreseeable future. Given the colossal size of most Whole Foods stores, it's not hard to see why.