After a year of testing Amazon.com Inc has announced that it will open its checkout-free grocery store to the public on today.
Located in Seattle, the Amazon Go, depends on cameras and sensors to track what shoppers remove and put back on the shelves. Cash registers and checkout lines become unnecessary as customers are billed after leaving the store using credit cards on file.
Long lines can deter shoppers, so a company that figures out how to eradicate wait times will have an advantage.
Amazon has not yet revealed whether it will add more Go locations, but has made it clear that it has no plans to add the technology to the larger Whole Foods stores.
The first convenience-style store opened in 2016 on the 5th of December to Amazon employees, in a test phase. At the time, Amazon said it expected members of the public could begin using the store in early 2017.
There have been challenges in the system however, according to a source. These included correctly identifying shoppers with similar body types, and the chaos that ensued when children were brought into the store during the trial, by moving items to incorrect places.
Vice president of Amazon Go, Gianna Puerini, said in an interview that the store worked very well throughout the test phase, thanks to four years of prior legwork.
Puerini said, “This technology didn’t exist,” Puerini said, walking through the Seattle store. “It was really advancing the state of the art of computer vision and machine learning.”
“If you look at these products, you can see they’re super similar,” she said of two near-identical Starbucks drinks next to each other on a shelf. One had light cream and the other had regular, and Amazon’s technology learned to tell them apart” he continued.
The 1800-square-foot (167-square-meter) store is situated in an Amazon office building, and to start shopping, customers must scan an Amazon Go smartphone app and pass through a turnstile.