Amazon has taken a page from Apple’s book and maybe one-upped it, or at least brought it closer to home. The company announced Amazon Go, a combination retail store and app that allows you to walk in, scan a code, and walk out without doing going through any form of checkout line.
Apple’s been doing something similar for years at its Apple retail locations (formerly Apple Stores). You can walk in, photograph a product with your Apple Store app, charge a credit card attached to your iTunes account, and leave.
Amazon’s approach is both a little more hamfisted and more expansive at the same time. According to the video below and the Amazon Go webpage, you gain entrance to the store by scanning a QR code you produce using the Amazon Go app.
While you’re there, Amazon tracks you and everything you put in your bag using cameras, sensors, and machine learning. Once you leave, you’re charged for the things you take. No checkout. No fuss.
The company said Amazon Go stores will feature, “ready-to-eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack options made fresh every day by our on-site chefs and favorite local kitchens and bakeries.” There will also be staples such as, “bread and milk to artisan cheeses and locally made chocolates.” Hipsters take note.
Self-checkout stands were a natural evolution of grocery stores and other retail establishments. As the machines become cheaper and more reliable, they will eventually cost a fraction of what paying a human costs.
Amazon’s approach goes a step beyond that, and it’s the kind of step Amazon is ideally suited to take. The company’s cloud computing infrastructure, machine learning expertise, and logistical skills give Amazon a huge leg up on pushing such boundaries. (Check out the 18-wheeler Amazon unveiled that can send 100 Petabytes of your company’s data to the cloud.)
But Not Just Yet
But, these stores aren’t everywhere, and the one that exists will initially be available only to Amazon’s Beta program. That store is located at 2131 7th Ave, Seattle, WA.
The company said Amazon Go will be open to the public in early 2017, but additional locations have not yet been announced. You can sign up to be notified when it goes live.