The online retail and grocery giant is planning to debut its latest venture. Amazon Go is a cashier-free grocery store that will launch in Seattle, which has no check-out lines and charges customers by using the same sensing technology used in self-driving cars. The store was originally set to open earlier this year, but some technical glitches still need to be worked on before the launch.
Amazon Go is designed to allow customers to simply walk in, pick up their item for purchase and walk out. The idea is to provide the utmost convenience to busy shoppers by cancelling out the wait time it takes to cash out their product. Their check-out free shopping experience is made possible by using the same technologies used in self-driving cars: computer vision, sensor fusion and deep learning. The store relies on a mobile app that works with its sensing technology to charge consumers on their Amazon accounts. Scanning the code on the app is the only way a customer is allowed inside.
Amazon employees have been test driving Amazon Go for the past year. In one such test, three amazon employees wore bright yellow Pikachu costumes and walked around the store grabbing sandwiches, drinks and snacks. The “just walk out” technology worked in this case and correctly identified the employees and charged them accordingly. According to a source interviewed by Bloomberg, there will be no need for tracking devices, such as radio frequency chips embedded in the merchandise – only algorithms will be used to charge shoppers once they leave.
The company has been facing a few technical difficulties since they unveiled Amazon Go last December. The “just walk out” technology has improved significantly over the past seven months but there are a few more bugs the company needs to work out. The system works well for individual shoppers but it has trouble recognizing people who shop in groups. The sensing technology finds it difficult to know who to charge when couples shop together and when people are shopping in groups. Amazon’s engineers are working on ways to charge families that have children who unwrap and eat products in the store as well.
The company is also conducting focus groups to design protocols for in-store returns, damaged merchandise and customer concerns that are common to brick-and-mortar retail.
It is still unclear when Amazon plans on opening its new store to the general public in Seattle. Analysts expect the same technology to be introduced in Whole Foods in the future.