Amazon has opened a small bricks-and-mortar store in Seattle where customers can walk in, grab what they want and walk out without lining up to pay.
Called Amazon Go, the company says it’s opened a 170 square metre beta store for their employees in Seattle to test technology that will let shoppers grab groceries without having to scan and pay for them in person.
And if all goes well, the company says it hopes to open it to the public in early 2017.
On the company’s website, Amazon says the store uses sensors to detect what items shoppers have picked up off the shelves. Every item is then registered on a virtual cart on the customer’s smartphone. And shortly after leaving the store, the customer is charged on their Amazon account and is sent a receipt.
It’s not clear how exactly the company plans on expanding Amazon Go after their experiment but the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that Amazon plans on opening more than 2,000 grocery stores.
Global News has reached out to Amazon for comment but has not received a response.
In the grand scheme of things, experts say Amazon’s latest push into grocery stores may create competition for supermarket chains.
“The checkout lines are always the most inefficient parts of the store experience,” said Neil Saunders, managing director of retail research firm Conlumino.
“Not only would you save a lot on labour costs, you actually would make the process much quicker for consumers and much more satisfying.”
At the moment the company describes how its technology works on their website with buzzwords: computer vision, sensor fusion and deep learning.
Amazon came up with the idea of a grab-and-go grocery store four years ago and applied for a patent in 2014.
The application describes the idea of using cameras and radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags to track items as a way to eliminate lines and checkout counters.
Much of the concept relies on shoppers being identified by the technology.
“User information may include, but is not limited to, user-identifying information (e.g. images of the user, height of the user, weight of the user), a user name and password, user biometrics, purchase history, payment instrument information (e.g., credit card, debit card, check card), purchase limits, and the like.”
— With files from Reuters.