Amazon launches the easiest, fastest convenience stores ever … a great example of digital-physical meshing

December 5, 2016

Amazon today launches a grocery store without lines or checkout counters. Amazon Go is a 1800-square-foot retail concept store in the company’s hometown of Seattle. It redefines the notion of a convenience store – faster, simpler, easier than ever. The embedding of one-click style technologies within a physical store, enables shopper to grab the items they want and leave; the order gets charged to their Amazon account afterwards.

Amazon Go works by using computer vision and sensors to detect what items you’re taking out of the store. You start by scanning an app as you enter the Amazon Go shop. You do your normal shopping, and the sensors throughout the store identify the items in your cart and charge them to your account when you walk out the door. It could feel like shoplifting, except you’re actually being watched by more cameras than you can imagine.

The shop will stock most items you’d find in a local convenience store: snacks, drinks, premade food like salads and sandwiches, and grocery essentials like bread and milk. It will also sell Blue Apron-like meal kits that let you cook your own dinners for two.

On the consumer level, the benefits are obvious — no waiting in a queue or fussing around with self-checking machines. But for Amazon, the company could potentially track you and your phone as you browse the store to track items you buy. By looking at your movements in the store as you shop, Amazon could analyze items you may have noticed or were potentially interested in buying (i.e., picking something up off a shelf and putting it back down.) Combine this with your online Amazon  browsing activities and the company could gear up to serve even more recommended products wherever you’re online.

The store is currently open in beta to Amazon employees only. A public opening is scheduled for early 2017, with 20 stores to roll out during the next 12 months.

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