They aren’t on every corner yet, but in 3+ years there will be 3,000+ Amazon Go stores. Right now, there are just 3. Two in its hometown of Seattle, and another in Chicago. New York and San Francisco are coming soon.
According to CNN, they are the future of retail.
They’re sleek and modern, with a minimalist vibe. Black merchandise racks. Wood veneer. Polished concrete. Pop music plays softly in the background; cameras nestled in the ceiling monitor your every move as you wander the aisles.
…you won’t see a single cashier, cash register, or self-service checkout stand. Such things have no place in the future. You simply walk in, grab what you need, and go. Amazon bills your credit card as you pass through the turnstile on your way out. Moments later, an app in your phone provides a receipt detailing what you’ve bought, what you paid, and even how long you spent inside.
The stores use sophisticated image recognition software and ai. (Yes, just like they’ve been saying, the robots took your retail job.)
Mark Cohen who leads retail studies at Columbia Business School,
“Amazon Go is the disruptor that essentially replaces everything that is used to transact.“
Because before you can even enter the store, you have to install their app and log in with your Amazon account. As you go through the turnstile at the door, you scan your personalized barcode.
• You never wait in line.
• You never open your wallet.
• And they know so much about you that they recommend products and lead you right to them.
• And btw thieves, shoplifting (which costs retailers $47 billion a year) is almost impossible.
Hundreds of cameras track your every move, keeping tabs on everything you put in your basket. The cameras create a three-dimensional representation of you that looks a bit like the monochromatic and slightly blurry videos made by a Microsoft Kinect. Amazon uses these images to know that it was you, not the guy next to you, who grabbed that bottle of seltzer.
Amazon says it keeps that data just long enough to provide you with an accurate receipt, although a small subset of the info might be retained to further train the algorithms that make everything work.
Amazon’s software is sophisticated enough to discern from the labels and packaging that you chose black cherry, not lime, seltzer. Packaged foods like sandwiches, wraps, and salads bear a unique pattern of circles and diamonds that works a bit like a QR code. The software reads that code and knows you selected a turkey wrap. Weight sensors on each shelf know when you’ve removed something, and when you’ve changed your mind and put it back.
Amazon won’t say any more than that about how the store works because most of the technology is proprietary. You won’t be charged for anything until you leave. If they get something wrong, they will refund your money.
They began work on these stores five years ago. Dilip Kumar, Amazon vice president of Amazon Go says,
“One of the things that kept coming back was people don’t like waiting in lines.“
Some retailers get it and are already trying to catch up. Walmart announced a partnership with Microsoft in July.
If you’re as big as Walmart, you’d better adapt to the future of retail ASAP —or lose.
(Photo, Amazon; via CNN)