Amazon is gearing up to launch its first Amazon Go checkout-less store in Seattle. The concept was unveiled last December and went into beta around seven months ago, with employees tasked with putting the shop through its paces since.
Once Amazon Go is open for business, shoppers will check in via their smartphones, with shelf sensors and cameras working in tandem to determine which items have been purchased. As shoppers depart, the store will calculate the bill which will be charged to their Amazon accounts.
It’s likely the Amazon Go ‘Just Walk Out’ technology will eventually be rolled out at Whole Foods, which Amazon acquired for $13.7 billion in September.
Amazon has been using Seattle as a retail innovation lab. Earlier this year, it rolled out drive-up grocery stores in the Ballard and SoDo neighbourhoods. Consumers purchase items online, then scoot off to the new stores at scheduled timeslots to pick them up.
Amazon opened its first physical bookstore at the University Village shopping centre in Seattle in late-2015. The company has since rolled out more than a score of mini retail outlets across the US designed primarily to show off Amazon’s own-brand hardware, in particular its Echo home speaker range, with voice-recognition assistant Alexa onboard.
Fast fact: Outside the US, Amazon has just opened a new development centre in Cambridge where some 400 engineers and technologists are working primarily on Alexa and drone innovation. A good part of Amazon’s UK artificial intelligence talent comes via the acquisition Cambridge-based AI firm Evi in 2012, which has been significant in Alexa’s development.