Amazon will open its first Amazon Go grocery store in Seattle, in early 2017, where customers will be able to walk in, pick up the items they want to buy, and walk out.
Amazon hasn’t divulged many details as to how it accomplishes this checkout-free experience, it just says that its “Just Walk Out” technology uses sensors, computer vision, and deep learning to track customers and automatically register which items get picked up. The customers will be charged later via their Amazon account.
Watch the video above. It’s pretty slick. If customers change their mind about an item, they just have to put it back and Amazon will automatically remove it from their bill. Amazon Go has been in the works for four years.
Amazon Go, which is currently only open to Amazon employees as a beta test, is an 1,800-square-foot store that carries staples like milk and bread, along with ready-to-eat meals and snacks. So it’s not a full-blow grocery store yet, but we don’t see what’s stopping Amazon from going that route. Couldn’t this same model be used for book stores and clothing stores?
If so, that would be bad news for the 3.4 million people who, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, are employed as cashiers in the US. Combine that number with the 4.5 million employed as retail salespeople and 2.4 million employed as laborers who restock and move cargo, it looks like Amazon Go will have a major impact on the future.
Roger McNamee, co-founder of technology investment firm Elevation Partners, doesn’t foresee Amazon Go as the death of human retail workers. He told CNBC that Amazon Go “is part of a continuum that began a number of years ago when folks like Home Depot, and then CVS and Albertsons, Wal-Mart and others have experimented with self-checkout.”
“The human beings are really a positive part of the experience,” McNamee added. “I don’t expect this to take over the world. It just doesn’t seem like an earth-shattering thing.”
Maybe he’s right. In 2006, IBM released a video that predicted an Amazon Go-like store. Instead of using deep learning and computer vision, however, the store used RFID throughout the store to keep track of what customers bought.