If you ask me, the worst part of shopping is waiting on a slowly-moving, seemingly-never-ending checkout line. Amazon might agree, as today (Dec. 5) it announced Amazon Go, a new grocery store that lets customers skip the payment line, almost as if they were stealing the products in their bags.
Currently in a beta program and only open to the company's employees, Amazon Go uses a mix of sensors, computer vision and what it calls "deep learning" to know when you've added something to your bag. The company calls this its Just Walk Out shopping experience, and it will only require you to scan the Amazon Go app when you enter the store, and it will charge you when you leave.
While you shop, the store will monitor what you take off the shelf and what you put back, and charge you for what you keep at the end of the experience. The 1,880-square-foot store will open to the public in early 2017, and Amazon says it will be "conveniently compact," which we hope doesn't end up resulting in a too-tight shopping experience.
Amazon go appears to offer the same products you can find in the average Whole Foods or other high-end market, including ready-to-eat mealse, staples such as bread and milk and those always costly "artisan cheeses and locally made chocolates." Amazon says the store will sell products from well-known brands as well as ones you'll only then discover.
Amazon Go will also compete with services such as Blue Apron, as Amazon Meal Kits pack "all the ingredients you need to make a meal for two in about 30 minutes."
If you live in or can can travel to Seattle easily, visit this page to get a notification when the store is open to the public.
We hope this experience is as seamless as the promo video describes, despite the fact that today's self-checkout machines don't always quite work like they should. If it's successful, this store could bring IBM's vision of RFID-based shopping (which looked an awful lot like shoplifting) to life.