How would you like to be able walk into a grocery store, fill your basket with goods and walk out without standing in line and checking out? That’s exactly what you do when you walk into an Amazon Go store and it’s pretty incredible technology. Here’s how Amazon Go stores work and why you should give a darn.
OK, So What Exactly are “Amazon Go” Stores?
Amazon Go is a “brick and mortar” grocery store concept that lets you walk in, grab the items you want, then walk out without having to checkout in the traditional way.
No cashiers asking you “So whatcha up to today?” and more importantly, NO lines.
You simply download the Amazon Go app for free, scan the app when you walk in, and they’ll track exactly what you buy and bill your Amazon account when you exit.
Once you scan the app, and enter the store, you can put your phone away as you won’t need it again.
Where Are Amazon Go Stores Currently?
The Amazon Go roll-out started back in 2016 in Seattle and has grown to 9 stores as of this writing.
Besides Seattle (4), they have stores in Chicago (3) and San Francisco (2). Two more in the works.
Most are currently located in busy financial districts where workers want to grab a quick lunch or snack. This is evident by many Amazon Go locations being closed on weekends.
What Products Do They Carry?
Think of Amazon Go stores as a “corner market” type of store.
They carry staple items like dairy, bread, candy, drinks, snacks, coffee, and personal hygiene products.
But their most popular section is the prepackaged foods for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Most are from local restaurants and suppliers that shoppers recognize and know are tasty.
And yes, they carry alcohol. Be prepared to show your ID to an employee before entering the booze section of the store.
Also, when shopping at a specific Amazon Go location, be sure to tap the Discover tab within the app and it’ll tell you exactly what the store carries.
What About Amazon Go Prices?
The prices aren’t outrageous and are actually reasonable.
For example, you can get a tasty wrap for $6.49, a bag of chips for $1.29, and a bottle of water for $.99. That’s well under $10 for a quick lunch. Not bad.
Are the prices going to be less than a big-box grocery store? Not typically, but the concept of “time being money” makes the Amazon Go proposition a winner for many on the move.
As Amazon opens more “Go” stores, look for prices to drop as they fine tune the technology and figure out how to pass more savings along to you.
Do You Need to be a Prime Member?
Amazon Go is open to ALL shoppers, even those without a Prime membership.
You just need an Amazon account along with a smartphone so you can download the app.
How Accurate is the Technology?
Amazingly, it is REALLY accurate.
So accurate in fact that Amazon has said that if you manage to exit an Amazon Go location with something you weren’t charged for, it’s on them and you can KEEP it.
I was intrigued by this YouTube video from Linus Tech Tips as they did a great job explaining the tech being used in the store.
Not only are there cameras everywhere tracking your movements, but they track what items you pick up and take along with those that you pick up, stare at, then put back.
The prepackaged food items have specific Amazon Go bar-codes on them but the other items don’t, which is kinda incredible.
Amazon has been tight lipped when talking about exactly how the stores work, but in any case, they’re clearly using computer vision and deep learning to track what you grab.
Why Should You Care About This?
Put simply, because it’s the future.
Remember when Amazon acquired Whole Foods back in 2017?
It was no accident that this was shortly after the first Amazon Go store popped up in Seattle.
Look for Amazon to bring this technology to Whole Foods in the very near future.
It might not be in the entire store to start, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it was in the next few years.
This line-less technology is the future of “brick & mortar” shopping and Amazon is at forefront.
When you walk into an Amazon Go location you better believe the data collection starts in earnest.
They’re tracking what you buy, what you look at (and for how long), and how you navigate the store.
Data that’s used to improve their stores and technology to better serve you.
This data collection might seem a bit “big brotherish” but it’s the price you pay to enter Amazon Go….your choice.
Ask the Reader: Have you ever shopped at an Amazon Go location? Would you go back? How was the experience and the value proposition?
By Kyle James
Photo credit to Amazon.com.