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Checkout free shopping, the future of retail?

Last Updated 2022/04/12

Amazon's new grocery store, Amazon Go, recently to the public in Seattle, the United States after five years in development and 14 months of testing by Amazon employees.

Amazon Go isn't just an ordinary grocery store, what sets it apart is that it doesn't have any cashiers or checkout lines. Instead, Amazon automatically bills customers on their Amazon accounts based on the items they're carrying as they leave the store.

The store itself is only 1,800 square feet, around the size of a convenience store, so you won't be able to do your weekly shopping, unfortunately. Instead, the store acts more of a proof of concept for the technology, which if successful could be quickly rolled out to more stores.

The company first unveiled its plans in December 2016, describing it to have the potential to "dramatically alter brick-and-mortar retail." During trials, there were problems when more than 20 people shopped at the same time, but so far, it looks like those issues have been solved.

The store isn't entirely free of staff though; there are still chefs preparing meals and employees replacing items on shelves, checking IDs at the liquor shelves or in case you run into difficulties with the technology.

How does this technology work?

First of all, before entering the store, you will have to download the Amazon Go app, which is available for both IOS and Android devices. You can then scan the app through the entrances turnstiles, pick up the items you want and leave the store. It's as simple as that.

According to Amazon, this is all made possible by their "Walk Out" technology, which incorporates three separate techniques - computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning, which all work together to recognize what items you have picked up automatically.

With the sensor fusion technology, the sensors placed on the shelves can detect when an object has been taken or even put back on the shelf. The various cameras throughout the store then use "computer vision" to see the items that have been picked up by customers. The deep learning technology uses advanced pattern recognition to determine conclusions from datasets.

What's next for Amazon Go?

Amazon is yet to announce its plans for the future of the Go Store, but it's unlikely they would have developed the technology for such a long time just for one store. Chances are they will review the success and profitability and make any changes that need may need to be made with the technology before any plans are made to expand to more locations.

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Adam Sykes