Retail powerhouse Amazon is disrupting retail yet again, with the opening of its checkout-free Amazon Go grocery store in Seattle.
It looks and feels like a regular grocery store, but with one major difference: There’s no checkout — and no checkout lines. Upon entering, shoppers scan a special smartphone app that registers them into the store. After grabbing their items, customers are free to walk right out.
“The just-walk-out technology is tracking that these items are leaving the shelf, and it’s putting them in my virtual cart,” Amazon Go Vice-President Gianna Puerini told NBC News during an exclusive look at the new store. “And if I put them back on the shelf, they come out of my virtual cart.”
When customers leave the store, their account is automatically charged, which means no more waiting in long checkout lines. Overhead throughoutthe store, hundreds of cameras read labels through machine learning and sense the shopper’s body type. These cameras work in tandem with sensors embedded in the store’s shelves, all collecting data about your preferences.
“Those cameras are primarily looking at all of these products and figuring out what has left the shelf and what is going back to the shelf.” Puerini says. “The system is highly accurate. On the rare occasion, if you were to find an error, we make it super easy to do a self-service return.”
The new retail plan by Amazon has an increased focus on pricing, and Amazon says they won’t mark up prices to compensate for the convenience of just walking out.
Fresh off of the $13.7 billion acquisition of grocery chain Whole Foods, Amazon says it has no plans to install this technology in those stores. And even though the store doesn’t employ any cashiers, Amazon downplays the effect on jobs.
“There’s a kitchen full of chefs and cooks making the things that are on the shelf right now, and as you look around the store, all these folks in orange are all here to help make customers’ experience better. So we’re just shifting the kind of work that folks do,” Puerini told NBC News.