Amazon will open its first checkout-free supermarket today as it continues to disrupt the brick and mortar retail sector.
Called Amazon Go and located in Seattle, the store has been in development for over a year and uses the same types of technologies used in self-driving cars: computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning.
The company’s ‘just walk out’ technology automatically detects when products are taken from or returned to the shelves and keeps track of them in a virtual cart.
When customers are done shopping, they can leave the store before a receipt is sent to their phone and their Amazon account is charged.
The new shop is the latest disruption in the retail sector by the world’s largest online retailer following its $13.7 billion purchase of high-end supermarket Whole Foods Market last year.
Products on sale are similar to those found in convenience stores and delis: ready-to eat snack options, a selection of grocery essentials, as well as Amazon meal kits.
To shop in the supermarket, customers need an Amazon account, an Amazon Go app and a recent-generation iPhone or Android phone. When arriving, customers have to the app to enter the store but don’t need it to shop.
The store is located in Amazon’s campus in Seattle and has roughly 1,800 square feet of retail space which is designed to be conveniently compact so busy customers can get in and out fast.
There is a team of staff working in the kitchen and the store to prepare ingredients, make ready-to-eat food, stock shelves, and help customers.
Hugh Fletcher, global head of consultancy and innovation for e-commerce specialists Salmon, believes that Amazon’s technology is a driving force for the changing face of retail.
“Its dedication to service has revolutionised the digitally-driven services landscape in retail,” he said. “The launch of Amazon Go, the futuristic convenience store, caters to shoppers’ craving for a friction-free, convenient and seamless experience, and officially takes the once online-only platform further into the high street. It’s an interesting concept, and many have argued that Amazon is looking to partially reverse the increasing consumer trend to shop online.”
“However, the real aim is to use its customer-centric learnings from its online platform to improve physical shopping. Online shopping was first to disrupt the retail model as customers were given the option to purchase goods from the ease of their home. And Amazon Go may well be the next step in this experience.
“As to whether it’s good for retail, it might shake up the already declining influence of bricks and mortar stores and prompt them into rethinking ways to innovate their store to suit the convenience of the customer. Conversely, this could spell further trouble for the big supermarkets whose shares had already slipped following Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods last year.”
Amazon has not said if it will launch more Go shops or if it plans to use the technology into its range of Whole Foods stores.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019