Amazon wants to make our grocery shopping experience easier and faster with their new Amazon Go stores.  You just download an app, go to their store, pick up what you want and walk out.  Sound too good to be true?  Well, they have opened a store to the public in Seattle and people are shopping like that as we speak.

About Amazon Go

Amazon Go is a grocery store operated by Amazon, with one location in Seattle, Washington. The first store opened to the public on January 22, 2018, and is located in the company’s Day 1 building. The store has prepared foods, meal kits, limited groceries, and liquor available for purchase.

It is partially-automated, with customers being able to purchase products without going to a cashier to check out. They use technologies like computer vision, deep learning algorithms, and sensor fusion to automate much of the purchase, checkout, and payment steps.  How cool is that? They call it their Just Walk Out shopping experience. You walk in, pick up your item and walk out.

How does it work?

Before you go shopping at Amazon Go you will need to download the Amazon Go app and set up an account if you don’t already have one.  That’s the hardest part and after that, you can shop away.

Download the app

Customers must download the Amazon Go app for iOS or Android via app stores or you can download from Amazon’s app store.  Once you set up the app you link it to your account before shopping at the store. The app allows users to add others to their Amazon account, so kids and a spouse’s purchases can be charged to the same bill.

At the Store

Once you have the app downloaded, account setup, and you have arrived at the store the fun begins.  You walk into the store and there are turnstiles. You use your phone to scan a code above the gate and that lets you in.  This is how you get inside the store and they know who you are.  If you don’t have the app downloaded or have an older phone that won’t work with it, you can’t get in the store.  They say “recent generation iPhone or Android phone”.  I see no mention of Windows phone, sorry Windows users.

Now that you are inside, Amazon is tracking your movements.  Don’t worry it is not scary, its just how they know what you buy.  Each item you take off the shelf is added to a virtual cart.  If you put it back on the shelf, it is taken out of your cart.  They can tell by the weight of the item being put back on the shelf.

The items seem to mostly be prepackaged foods and staples like bread and milk.  Since this is new, they will probably use this as a test before adding a lot more items. You can use Amazon’s orange shopping bag or just put it in your bag. When you’re done shopping, you just leave the store. Shortly after, they will send you a receipt and charge your Amazon account.

Are there any employees?

Yes, there are employees in the store to answer questions.  In the liquor area, an employee checks ids.  There are people restocking shelves and greeters at the front of the store.  Don’t worry, you are not completely alone.

Other Useful information

Right now there is only one store open to the public located at  2131 7th Ave, Seattle, WA.  They are open 7 AM – 9 PM, Monday through Friday.  The store itself is small so if there is a big crowd it might get cramped.  It seems people are visiting now due to the novelty.  That will wear off and it shouldn’t be too bad as far as crowds.

Thoughts about Amazon Go

I really like the concept.  I wish it were here in Georgia, but we will have to wait a bit for a store here.  If the store in Seattle is successful, no doubt they will open other locations.  As we move towards more advanced artificial intelligence, self-driving cars, and other breakthroughs, we will see more companies moving in this direction.  Walmart and other stores have curb pickup or automated kiosks in the store to pick up your order with no employee interaction.  I look at this as the start of many new advances in society and I am excited about it.  Maybe a trip to Seattle is in order?

Savvy Tip: If you are looking for a job, they are hiring at Amazon Go. The jobs are primarily in Seattle and at different levels.  It may be worth it to check them out.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

– Arthur C. Clarke