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RETAIL ENVIRONMENT

All systems go for Amazon Go

Amazon has announced the opening of its first Amazon Go supermarket in Seattle, which has no checkout operators or self-service tills.

Located at the Amazon headquarters, the 1,800 square foot store uses technologies such as computer vision, sensor function and deep learning to automatically detect when products are taken from or returned to the shelves, and keeps track of them in virtual carts.

Once customers have completed their shopping, they simply walk out of the store with no checkout required.

Customers must first download the Amazon Go app in order to gain access to the store, scanning the app as they enter. Once they leave the shop, their online Amazon account will automatically be charged for the items taken and an electronic receipt is issued.

The new store was opened to employees for a trial in December 2016, but it experienced teething problems with the technology so delayed the full public launch. Speaking of the test phase, Gianna Puerini, head of Amazon Go, said: “This technology didn't exist – it was really advancing the state of the art of computer vision and machine learning.”

The opening of the new store follows Amazon’s £10.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods in August last year, but the e-commerce giant said that it currently has no plans to put the cashier-less technology in the 470 global Whole Foods stores.

Commenting on the opening of Amazon Go, Hugh Fletcher, global head of consultancy and innovation at Salmon, said: “The launch of Amazon Go, the futuristic convenience store, caters to shoppers’ craving for a friction-free, convenient and seamless experience, and officially takes the once online-only platform further into the High Street. It’s an interesting concept, and many have argued that Amazon is looking to partially reverse the increasing consumer trend to shop online.

“However, the real aim is to use its customer-centric learnings from its online platform to improve physical shopping. Online shopping was first to disrupt the retail model as customers were given the option to purchase goods from the ease of their home. And Amazon Go may well be the next step in this experience.”

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