AMAZON GO STORES OPENS – Boasts “Just Walk Out” Tech Auto Charges & Tracks Shoppers
We packed a shopping bag full of cookies, snap peas and Amazon-branded drinkware — all of which appeared on a virtual receipt moments later. But a single-serve Siggi’s yogurt cup was noticeably dropped from the list. We promptly confessed to Amazon, and VP of Amazon Go Gianna Puerini in return told us not to worry about it, and said that it’s an extremely rare error.
“First and foremost, enjoy the yogurt on us,” Puerini said. “It happens so rarely that we didn’t even bother building in a feature for customers to tell us it happened. So thanks for being honest and telling us. I’ve been doing this a year and I have yet to get an error. So we’ve tried to make it super easy on the rare occasion that does happen either to remove it or enjoy breakfast on us.”
Siggi’s didn’t seem to mind the lost sales either. All of the usual suspects in the press–including us!–reviewed the new Amazon Go store that opened to the public in Seattle this week. There’s a lot of “what does this mean for the future?” beard rubbing by the media. Meanwhile, the everyday people who are trying it seem to love the novelty.
It’s billed as the first store without cashiers or a checkout counter–the promise being that you never have to wait in line. Using computer vision and a suite of sensors, Amazon tracks its customers, watching their every move, allowing them to just walk out with the goods they want.
But what is it really like, to the shoppers who poked their heads in? For that answer, we turned to the world of social media–Instagram, Twitter, Yelp, Foursquare, and Google–to see what people were saying about their first shopping experience.
The verdict? It’s overwhelmingly positive. People call it both “cool” and “”–often in the same sentence–but no one is actually out. Instead, they note that the store works as seamlessly as advertised, even when they attempt to fool the system. The selection is that of a 7-Eleven with really good sandwiches. And while there’s no line inside, there’s, ironically, a block-long line outside. Perhaps most notably, the Amazon Go store has been treated like any other FOMO destination by people online. It’s a place where visitors are smiling and taking selfies, welcoming the new era of shopping surveillance in the interest of not talking to a checkout clerk.
There’s No Line Inside, Because It’s Outside Having already downloaded and installed the associated app, I walked up to the store’s entrance with zero queue. “Welcome to Amazon Go!” a few cheerful people in official attire said as I approached, nearly in unison. “Are you familiar with the Amazon Go app?” one asked. I waved my phone at them, showing my unique QR code attached to my Amazon account, and they waved me in. Another staffer handed a more confused passer-by a pamphlet and explained how it worked.
From there, I had one of three turnstiles to choose from, at which point I put my phone, with the barcode loaded, face down onto an iPad-sized countertop. “Go!” popped up, punctuated by three pleasing beeps. I was in. How well this slight-delay and “ugh I need to check my screen” interaction will hold up to larger lines and confused shoppers remains to be seen, but that part worked easily enough for me on day one.
When I entered, I immediately noticed two things. This is a totally average, clean-looking convenience store, measuring roughly 1,800 square feet and containing a reasonable variety of “everything for everyone” food and drink.