On Monday, Amazon Go, the company’s new cashier-less mini-market opened in downtown Seattle, showing the world what retail shopping in the future could look like.
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Instead of human cashiers managing checkout lines and registers, Amazon Go has automated the checkout process with sensors backed by machine learning that are watching you pick up and put away that can of soda. After swiping into the store through the company’s app, shoppers are free to take items off the shelf and leave the store without needing to take out their wallets, because the app can bill you and send a virtual receipt.
Yes, it’s possible to trick Amazon’s sensors
Human employees are still used to stock shelves and prepare fresh meals, but without humans monitoring your purchases, is it possible to steal something? Some shoppers said the checkout process felt like “shoplifting.” Several journalists and shoppers attempted to try to trick Amazon’s sensors unsuccessfully. One journalist tried to trick the camera system by hiding his purchase in a bag under his arm, and still got charged for it. One shopper tried quickly swiping soda off the shelf, but the sensors still caught the choice and he got charged for it.
However, one CNBC reporter, Deirdre Bosa, said she was able to leave the Amazon Go store without being charged for a cup of Siggi’s yogurt.
— Deirdre Bosa (@dee_bosa) January 22, 2018
VP of Amazon Go Gianna Puerin told Bosa to “enjoy the yogurt on us,” calling the incident a “rare occasion” that “happens so rarely that we didn’t even bother building in a feature for customers to tell us it happened.” Amazon Go is so confident in the power of its cameras and sensors that it doubts shoppers can pull off more than the rare yogurt heist and the company has built no safeguard against it.
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Is Amazon Go the future of retail?
Amazon’s e-commerce empire has already revolutionized how we shop online with its one-click convenience, and if it is able to take its technology mainstream, it could change the way we shop in retail stores too. But before the “world’s most advanced shopping technology” comes to a city near you, there are other hiccups that Amazon will need to straighten out. Although Amazon promised to give shoppers a world of “no lines” in its promotional video, there were still lines around the block on the store’s opening day.
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