Amazon launched its new, automated grocery store concept in Seattle on Monday
Amazon Go is redefining the meaning of “super”-market.
On Monday, Amazon opened its new “Amazon Go” store in Seattle, the first in what could be a transformation in the way we buy our groceries. The standalone store has no cashiers or cash registers; instead, shoppers simply download the Amazon Go app on their smartphones, and the app — with the help of hundreds of cameras and sensors throughout the store — automatically tracks what you put into (and take out of) your cart. It then charges customers accordingly.
Amazon calls the experience “Just Walk Out Shopping,” explaining that it “is made possible by the same types of technologies used in self-driving cars: computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning.”
On the store’s first day in business, customers were greeted by a battalion of orange sweatshirt-clad staffers, doing everything from handing out reusable grocery bags to meticulously refilling shelves almost as soon as items were removed. Amazon Go customers told Moneyish they were happy with the cutting-edge experience.
I’m in Seattle and there is currently a line to shop at the grocery store whose entire premise is that you won’t have to wait in line. pic.twitter.com/fWr80A0ZPV
— Ryan Petersen (@typesfast) January 22, 2018
“I was very impressed by it … It was very nicely lit and organized and all of that stuff,” said freelance tech consultant Rey Allie, 28, who was there when the store opened at 7 a.m. “I picked up items, walked around, did a couple loops,” Allie said, explaining how he attempted to “trick” the system by putting back items a few minutes later, and waiting to see if it would actually void his charges for those articles. It worked, and Allie walked out having spent about $5 on a La Croix water, coffee, and candy.
Allie was less impressed with the prices, though: “I’ll be honest — I didn’t think the price point is very, very competitive,” he shared. “It did seem a little bit more expensive; it seemed like on par with Whole Foods prices.” And he admitted his surprise at the store’s relatively diminutive size — just 1,800 square feet, compared to the US national supermarket average of 45,000 square feet.
Marcus Harjani, 33, described the store as “a high-end 7/11.” He added that he certainly felt Amazon watching everything, though it wasn’t blatant: “There was a constant awareness of where individuals are and what individuals are looking at and when individuals take things off the shelves.” But the co-founder and COO of celebrity-focused website FameMoose added that this made the experience more convenient. “You can walk right in, grab something and walk out, [cutting] your shopping time more than in half.”
Los Angeles resident and accounting professional Delaney Lew, 26, who is visiting family in Seattle, hopes to see this concept roll out elsewhere. “They had really good quality products,” Lew said, which other shoppers noted included Whole Foods and Amazon Go-branded items. Harjani also mentioned several other sections the market boasts: a designated area for wine, meal kits from staple brands like Blue Apron, and baked goods such as cookies and breads from upscale local bakery Macrina.
Lew thought that the availability of grab-and-go items such as prepackaged meals and freshly made sandwiches and salads — visible to people walking by through large street-facing windows as they were being produced — might particularly appeal to millennials like herself.
I was likely one of the first 1000 people to try Amazon Go today, and I got my free bag to prove it! This store is so cool— I walked in, scanned my phone as if I was walking into the subway station, and was let in. I tried to be sneaky and quickly pull things off the shelves to see if it would register what I bought, and of course, it did! I’m sorry, I know this unemploys a small number of people (only cashiers! Do research before criticizing it!), but it is an awesome concept in my opinion. It’s very convenient to just walk in, grab what you need, and GO! You can even pull a soft drink off the shelves and drink it right there, and it’s almost immediately charged to your Amazon account. Can’t wait to see where this concept will “Go” in the future! #Seattle #AmazonGo #Amazon #Washington #VisitSeattle #Future
Of course, Amazon still has some kinks to work through, as evidenced by the inadvertent “shoplifting” of a cup of nonfat strained yogurt by CNBC tech correspondent Deirdre Bosa, who sought to put the store’s capabilities to the test.
— Deirdre Bosa (@dee_bosa) January 22, 2018
Amazon Go VP Gianna Puerini responded to the incident, saying that after a year of thorough testing under her watch, no such folly had previously occurred, and therefore Amazon didn’t bother building in a feature for customers to report items that go accidentally unaccounted for by the system. And, Puerini told Bosa cheekily: “First and foremost, enjoy the yogurt on us.”
Martin Ihrig, dean of business programs at New York University’s School of Professional Studies and adjunct professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, believes that Amazon Go represents the next frontier in grocery store innovation. For Ihrig, the beauty of the concept is that it eliminates five burdensome steps facing ordinary grocery store customers: Queuing up, unloading items onto a conveyor belt, ringing up each item, paying via card or cash, and waiting to receive your receipt and bagged groceries from the cashier. “I could see this model gaining momentum,” he said.
In summarizing his whole experience, Allie concluded that it was “kind of magical,” in an Apple-esque way. “I walk out, and didn’t even have to think about it… It was quite magical and cool.”
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