The latest retail experiment from Amazon is guaranteed to make at least a couple of its customers feel like they’re shoplifting. Amazon Go is a physical shop where people can simply walk in, pick up whatever they want, and walk back out again without having to stand in line or pay.
When entering the store, all customers need to do is scan their way in using the Amazon app. After that, anything they pick up is added to their virtual cart, and whatever they carry out of the store is automatically charged to their Amazon account. Your virtual cart only consists of what is physically on your person, so if you change your mind about something, all you have to do is put it down before leaving the store.
This is all enabled by what the company is calling its “just walk out technology,” comprising incredibly sophisticated machine learning and sensor fusion (the same innovations that have made self-driving cars a reality).
From a customer journey point of view, it’s a lot like Uber, which pings you a digital receipt upon completion of your journey. And just like Uber’s cashless service, the “no lines, no checkout” proposition of Amazon Go is bound to be a game-changer.
And let’s be honest. It’s not as if the current supermarket experience isn’t beyond improvement. Contactless transactions, Apple Pay and self-checkout machines all promised to be the solution to the time-suck that is shopping, but each of them have come with their own frustrating, idiosyncratic glitches. A store where you don’t have to bother with any of that might just be the answer — provided the QR codes required to enter the store actually work, of course.
The first Amazon Go store will open in Seattle, Washington in early 2017.