25 Jan'18

Is the Amazon Go store the answer to a seamless retail experience?

 

On Monday 22nd January Amazon opened the first Amazon Go store in Seattle that does not have any checkouts, the Independent reports.

 

Here are some key facts:

 

    • Customers enter the shop through gates by scanning their phone, choose their product from the shelf and leave

 

    • Amazon Go is a food shop, stocking groceries and ready-meals

 

    • The store is a 1800 sq ft space

 

    • It is open 8am-9pm five days a week

 

On their FAQ section, Amazon explain how it works: it uses the ‘same types of technologies used in self-driving cars’ which includes computer vision, sensor fusion and deep learning. Amazon refer to it as their ‘Just Walk Out Technology’, which detects the products you have taken (or returned) and tracks them in a virtual cart. You will then be charged via your Amazon account.
Click here out Amazon’s video of how it works.

 

 

TechCrunch published a first-person experience of the Amazon Go store. The reporter Devin Coldewey stated that it became clear that it would not be possible to shoplift with an Amazon PR rep never being more than a foot or two away and the ‘many, many cameras’.

 

What if there is a technical issue with a camera? Coldewey states that it has been ‘tested with cameras missing’ and the system does not break down. However, it can be assumed that it would not take long for a replacement camera to be put in place.

 

Speaking to TechCrunch, Dilip Kumar, the VP of Technology, made aware that there are ‘weight sensors in the shelves’ and the system is aware of every item’s exact weight. Therefore, as highlighted by Coldewey you can’t grab two items at once and only be charged for one.

 

BBC’s article is more sceptical regarding the accuracy of the technology. According to an Amazon Insider ‘there were some teething problems with correctly identifying shoppers of similar body types’ and ‘children moving items to the wrong places on shelves’.

 

The BBC add that ‘Amazon isn’t offering information on how accurate the system is’.

 

As quoted by the Independent, Amazon stated that the motivation behind creating the store was to provide a shopping experience where consumers do not have to wait in line. In other words, create a seamless shopping experience.

 

Discussing Amazon’s Go store, The Drum published an opinion piece arguing the reasons why ‘Amazon Go isn’t necessarily the future of shopping’. Some of these reasons include: ‘seamless is more than checkout-less’, there are pain points (for example, consumers have to go to the store) and they may be some privacy issues.