Amazon has opened a new store that doesn’t have cashiers, and there is an excellent article about it on the Forbes website. The basic idea behind the store is that shoppers walk in, take what they want and walk out with sensors and other technology handling everything else. Called a Go Store, this particular store sells food items and is expected to be the first of many.
To enter the store, which is about the size of a typical gas station, you must use an Amazon app on your smart phone to open a door to the inside. Once you have checked in, you are tracked by cameras at every second. These cameras have the ability to recognize objects and detect their motions. Some cameras are visible to shoppers, and others aren’t. Your account is also accessed when you check in, and Amazon is ready to begin charging you for your purchases.
When you pick up an item from the shelf, its price is immediately associated with you by the system CPU. Because shoppers are always being tracked by at least one camera, it’s easy for the system to follow individuals as they move through the store. If one or more cameras go down for whatever reason, the system will still function. The system also knows the weight of every item in the store, which makes it easier to keep track of what has been picked up and what hasn’t. The system has been tested during times when the store was crowded and did just fine.
Many people worry that such automated stores will mean the loss of jobs for actual humans, and there is definitely a danger of this. However, this new Go store isn’t completed automated. While there are no cashiers, there are still humans stocking the shelves. Furthermore, there are chefs in the kitchen and an individual who checks ID’s in the liquor section. Amazon also has staff in the store to explain its novel features to shoppers unfamiliar with them.
The technical challenges of creating such a store are numerous, and Amazon appears to have conquered the vast majority of them. Having said that, it remains to be seen whether this type of retail outlet will catch on with shoppers. In any event, Amazon has created a novel shopping experience.