Omnichannel retail, high-tech intervention and cash-free shopping have been the buzz words in the retail industry for the past few years. After a prolonged debate of the pros and cons of brick-and-mortar stores and e-tail stores, it has been realised that what customers want is a seamless experience while shopping. Whether they are buying online or offline, the ‘checkout’ needs to be equally simple. In a step in that direction, retail e-commerce giant Amazon has launched a new concept store called ‘Amazon Go’. The store, located at the bottom floor of the company’s Seattle headquarters, allows customers whatever they want to shop and then simply leave, without waiting in line for a cashier! Reportedly, Amazon employees have been testing the store for close to a year and was opened to the public on January 22.
Amazon Go retails milk, potato chips and other items typically found at a convenience store. It also stocks takeaway food like salads and sandwiches, meal kits for home preparation and an array of beverages. Shoppers can enter the Amazon Go store by using a smartphone app. After this, superior technology kicks into action to keep a track of what people take off the shelves. A mix of cameras, sensors and artificial intelligence constitute this technology. When a shopper pulls an item off the shelf, it is added to their virtual cart. The item is removed from the cart of it is placed back on the shelf. The shoppers are charged automatically when they leave the store. Amazon has stated that the automated store uses computer vision, machine learning algorithms and sensors to figure out what people are grabbing off its store shelves.
Amazon also said that families can shop together with just one phone scanning everyone in. However, the company explains that customers should avoid helping strangers, as picking an item off the shelf for them would mean you would be charged for it. Also, though it is an automated store, there will be employees to making food, stocking shelves, helping customers and checking the ID of customers buying alcohol. Amazon Go is an addition to Amazon’s bouquet of offline bookstores and its acquisition of Whole Foods last year. The launch of Amazon Go reaffirms Amazon’s focus on expanding its offline business, and the company has said it will launch more Amazon Go stores if the first one does well.