I stepped into the future at Amazon Go today. Everyone in Seattle knows that Amazon introduced the fully automated store check out a year ago and opened it to the public this week. It’s located at street level at the company headquarters. It’s attracting Amazon fanboys of all stripes, including Amazon partners visiting from all over the world. Lots of selfies and fingering of the store merchandise.
I loved the mobile app download, registration and store entry process. It was a little scary how easy it was for the app to identify all of the credit cards I already have on file with Amazon. The download and store entry took less than a minute. All very satisfying.
You use the mobile app QR code to gain entry through the store’s turnstiles. Then the image sensors take over. The ceiling is packed with image sensors and radio frequency transponders that are watching your every move. This is hardware far beyond the means of a corner convenience store. Even a large chain of convenience stores couldn’t justify this against the savings of firing every cashier.
I grabbed chocolate, cookies and a falafel dinner kit and wandered out the door. It didn’t feel like shoplifting. It felt like magic. So fast. Fifteen seconds later, out on the sidewalk, I got a notification that I was charged $27 and the duration of my visit was 7 minutes and 26 seconds. I could have completed the trip in less than a minute if I didn’t spend time checking out the store. That’s pretty incredible for an activity most people do one or two times a day.
I don’t know if it will scale or make sense for selling low cost items like mixed nuts. Eventually it probably will. For now I’m glad the hometown bookseller decided to build the world’s most advanced store and open it up to the public.