WEEK

Amazon opens a store with no checkouts

Amazon

You walk into a store, put products in the bag, and walk out. It is as simple. Until a few years ago, it was only a vision of the future. Today Amazon opened such store to the public. So far it is in beta. If clients love new form of shopping, e-commerce giant could change grocery and whole retail industry.

How Amazon Go works

On client’s side, it’s easy. You need to have dedicated Amazon Go app. QR code inside the app serves as an identifier scanned at a gate. After that, all products packed in the bag goes to the digital basket. There is no checkout and cashiers as you walk out. You are billed for products you’re taking out of the store, directly and automatically through your Amazon account. And that’s it. You have done your shopping, without a line and cashiers. That is user experience, whereas what works out of the reach for customers is technology using the same advances as autonomous vehicles. That means computer vision, deep learning and sensor fusion.

Amazon said that it does not use face recognition technology. In practice, the system uses computer vision that enables machines to see what product is in front of them and recognize when it has been taken from a shelf and by whom. If you put the product back on the shelf, the system will automatically remove it from your digital cart. And there is no need to use any chips on products. Barcode is enough. The store tracks customers all over it using numerous cameras under the ceiling, in the alleyways, and on shelves. They enable the system to identify customers and products that he or she collects in the bag. What happens in the back-end, behind machines eyes are advances of machine learning. That, in short, enables the system to draw conclusions from databases using patterns.

As of yet, a store without checkout lines is only in Seattle, where Amazon has its headquarter. The company didn’t say if it plans to apply this technology on a large scale, and if it is going to develop it further. Amazon, however, has been investing a lot over the past few years in developing products and technology that will make shopping no longer be a source of frustration. A store without lines and checkouts would eliminate it for sure. The only stress that could remain would be that related to overspending.