Amazon introduces Amazon Go, a convenience store without a checkout line

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On Monday, Amazon unveiled in a video a new physical store that sells a mix of “grocery essentials” and ready-made meals. But the key selling point is what it doesn’t have: checkout lines.

The video shows how customers check in at the entrance of the store with a new app called Amazon Go, then grab whatever items are needed. Amazon claims it can track the items automatically through a combination of computer vision, deep learning technologies and sensor fusion (like you’d find in self-driving cars). When you’re done shopping, you just walk out. The items are automatically billed to their Amazon accounts.

The first retail store is located in Seattle, where Amazon is headquartered. The company says it is testing the 1,800-square-foot store with its own employees and plans to open to the public in 2017.

And while Amazon has not spelled out how it works in full, “retail tech specialists and computer vision experts agree that Amazon’s advertised system is entirely plausible given the state of artificial intelligence, RFID, sensor and machine learning technologies today,” according to Wired.

 

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Others are more skeptical β€” for example, an editorial in Forbes calls the plan “all hype” during the high-volume holiday shopping season. It points out that Amazon regularly rolls out high-profile plans at this time of year, like the drone delivery program.

This isn’t Amazon’s first experiment with a brick-and-mortar store β€” it launched a bookstore last year in Seattle, as The New York Times reports, and has since added locations in San Diego and Portland.

And according to multiple reports, this is one of several experiments that Amazon is launching with the hope of capturing the lucrative market for groceries.

“You can bet that there are grocers that are quaking in their boots,” as Shoptalk retail strategist Sucharita Mulpuru tells Marketplace. She adds that groceries have posed challenges for online retailers: “It has stubbornly stayed offline more than just about every other e-commerce category.”

 

 

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