Amazon Go - The Future of Grocery Shopping Is Here

Amazon has been revolutionizing the way that we shop for years. The company has created an online shopping experience that offers quality and convenience. Their services have been so successful that brick and mortar retailers have been scrambling to keep up. Now, in an odd twist, Amazon has taken its online services into the world of physical storefronts, but the way that they are doing it has the potential to dramatically change how you shop for groceries: enter Amazon Go.

What is Amazon Go?

If you have ever avoided walking into a grocery store because of the ridiculous length of the checkout lines, or you have spent what felt like ages rifling through your wallet for your method of payment, Amazon Go holds the potential to ease your discomfort. With this new type of store, you will be able to scan your smartphone upon entry, shop as you please, and then walk out of the store without waiting in line. The store uses advanced shopping technology to track what you have picked up, and it charges your Amazon account accordingly. No more lines and no more fumbling for a wallet for these shoppers. For a brand which prides itself on offering quality and convenience while integrating cutting-edge technology, this new way to shop is no stretch of the imagination.

How does it work?


While the idea of shopping without going through a checkout line may seem far-fetched to us, there was also a time when we couldn’t imagine airplanes flying or self-driving cars. While Amazon hasn’t revealed the precise means by which their shops will track your purchases, they have stated that it is in part possible through the same technology that has given us self-driving cars. 

When you scan your smartphone upon entry, this enables a complex set of software and sensors to track your purchases. Advanced shopping technology enables you to pick items up and return them if you change your mind. It keeps track of what you are buying without you having to scan bar codes. Sensors in shelves and cameras throughout the building can track how many items you are picking up and what they are. Microphones and static cameras track what you are saying, and some of the tech in the building may be used to triangulate your precise position. While Luddites may find this level of tracking Big Brother-esque, others will say that this is all pars for the course. If you as a consumer wish to experience this level of convenience, then you will have to accept this level of technological integration.

Are there issues with this system?


As with any new technology, there are bound to be some problems. Critics have questioned how the store will know not to charge you if you hand your items off to a friend. If multiple family members wish to make purchases on a single account, then how will this be accomplished? These questions are yet to be clarified by Amazon, but they did note that if there were questions about what you picked up, then the app might ask you to confirm the purchase that you made before it charges you. The weight sensors on shelves will prevent patrons from partially consuming items and then placing them back on the shelves.

At present, it seems that owning a smartphone and having an Amazon account will be prerequisites to enjoying this shopping service, which may exclude a portion of the population who do not have the means or technological know-how for such things. Whether these stores will have a way to honor EBT or other food programs such as WIC has not been addressed in literature to date.

While there are some uncertainties, Amazon has always delivered on quality. The patent for this type of store was filed in 2014, which means that they have had two years to answer many of our questions. By the time that it is available to the general public, they will have undoubtedly worked out many of the bugs in order to prevent inventory loss and provide the caliber of service that the public has come to expect from them. You will probably learn a great deal more about Amazon Go upon its grand opening to the public, but current promotions already show a manner of shopping that is unlike any you have ever experienced before. 

What is Amazon Go going to offer us?


The 1,800 square foot store front at 2131 7th Avenue, Seattle, Washington is in its beta testing phase right now. At the moment, only Amazon employees are able to try out this new way to shop for groceries. In the early months of 2017, presumably after some of the kinks have been worked out, the shopping experience will be available to members of the general public. If all goes well, then you can expect that Amazon will replicate these stores across the country in the future.