Amazon Go Closer to Widespread Reality

By Alex Batty, MHI Marketing Communications Coordinator |@mhi_alex

Amazon’s back at it again. Of course. But Bloomberg is reporting that Amazon’s cashierless store is looking close to going live for consumers.

Now my Walmart has had self-checkout (technically cashierless) for years, but what’s different about Amazon is that there aren’t checkout kiosks either.

You simply walk in, pick what you want, and walk back out.

Now that’s some sci-fi nonsense right there.

They’re calling the brick-and-mortar program Amazon Go. While the technology is tightly under wraps, apparently it relies on a mobile app and the sensing technology that is going to be driving self-driving cars to track both customers and products while in the store. A shopper will scan their smartphone on entry, and then cameras and shelf sensors will work to figure out who took what. Once a customer walks out, it simply charges their Amazon account.

The technology will not use tracking devices like RFIDs, but uses the cameras/sensors and an algorithm to correctly tabulate the order.

The store started piloting in Seattle over a year ago and has had quite a few bugs to work out, but the sensing technology has markedly improved. Employees walked around in Pikachu suits picking items and the accounts were all charged correctly.

There are still improvements to be made, such as accounting for large groups, but a red flag that Amazon is gearing up to go to market is that they’ve shifted from using engineers and research scientists to construction managers and marketers on the specialized Amazon Go team.