Forget Self-Checkout – Amazon Opens Checkout-Free Store In Seattle

December 5, 2016 by Dave Haynes


Amazon has opened what amounts to a neighborhood grocery near its Seattle headquarters that totally eliminates checkouts and cash registers, allowing people to walk in, grab what they want, and leave – the purchases all tracked through shopper smartphones and the cloud.

The 1,800 sq. ft.Amazon Go store is now open as a test for staffers but will open to the public early in the new year.

Says Amazon in a press release:

Our checkout-free shopping experience is made possible by the same types of technologies used in self-driving cars: computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning. Our Just Walk Out technology automatically detects when products are taken from or returned to the shelves and keeps track of them in a virtual cart. When you’re done shopping, you can just leave the store. Shortly after, we’ll charge your Amazon account and send you a receipt.


The transaction starts with shoppers scanning their IDs via a QR code on their smartphones, in a process that looks a lot like tapping and going into a secured building or more sophisticated subway station.

You grab want you want and various tech – various sensors that tie in to a product to a smartphone/shopper/detected shape – and walk out through the same turnstile.  The total and receipt goes to the shopper’s phone.

Shoppers get convenience, Amazon gets a pile of data about shopper habits and even more ways to personalize messaging.

I’m not sure what the digital signage tie-in maybe be, but that is not mobile shopping with shoppers staring at their screens. This is impulse and mission-based shopping, and larger screens tied to a lot of real-time data can potentially drive a lot of impulse buying.

On a personal level, it looks about a bazillion times better than how self-checkout is done now. The approach drafts on early checkout-free tests in the market, dating back more than a decade. Though those tended to be tied to RFID tags and readers.

I dunno how they’d handle stuff like selling beer and wine. Maybe they just don’t.


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