Amazon's cashier-less store of the future opened yesterday to great fanfare.
Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) has finally opened its automated grocery store, "Amazon Go", sparking fears that retail job losses due to automation will be sure to follow.
The prototype store is fitted with cameras and sensors that keep track of goods as customers fill their shopping bags. It required over a year of R&D while the company's tech savants perfected the cutting-edge automation used by Amazon Go's no-line shopping method (things like computer vision, sensor fusion, and so-called "deep learning").
Amazon Go is among the boldest efforts by the online retailer to reshape brick-and-mortar shopping. This convenience store stocks food in the 1,800-square foot space.
In order to shop in the store, according to USA Today, "customers must first download the Amazon Go app and link it to a payment method".
Amazonautomation already has a foothold in the grocery industry having purchased Whole Foods Market Inc. past year for almost $14.0 billion. Shoppers are instead billed through credit card once they get out of the store, after they receive an electronic receipt.
Since Amazon has invested so much time into this technology (a luxury that only a company on Amazon's scale could afford), it is unlikely that any other corporation will be able to compete - at least for quite some time.
The Amazon Go app is compatible with recent iPhone and Android phones, and free to download.
Despite the lack of cashiers, there are still about 10 employees at Amazon Go, including chefs, helpful associates and ID monitors at the liquor corner.
The Seattle-based market - which is just about the size of a small bodega - opened its doors this week with no checkout lines.
Of course, Amazon Go isn't the company's only experiment in physical grocery retail. A big unanswered question is where Amazon plans to take the technology.
"We created the world's most advanced shopping technology so you never have to wait in line", said a statement on Amazon's website. For now, visitors to Amazon Go may want to watch their purchases: Without a register staring them in the face at checkout, it's easy to overspend.