Amazon Unveils Smart Convenience Store Without Checkouts Or Cashiers

By Angel Gonzalez
The Seattle Times

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Amazon has created a store with no register. Shoppers walking into the store call up the Amazon Go app and hold their smartphone to a scanner as they would at an airport security line. That opens a gate. Then they just pick any combination of products and walk out. Amazon charges them after they leave the store.

SEATTLE

Call it Amazon.com’s driverless store.

The tech giant has built a convenience store in downtown Seattle that deploys a gaggle of technologies similar to those used in self-driving cars to allow shoppers to come in, grab items and walk out without going through a register.

The 1,800-square-foot store, officially dubbed Amazon Go, is the latest beach in brick-and-mortar retail stormed by the e-commerce giant, which already has bookstores and is working on secretive drive-thru grocery locations.

It’s clearly a sign that Seattle-based Amazon sees a big opportunity in revolutionizing the staid traditions of Main Street commerce.

In the much longer term, if the experiment works out and is adopted widely, it could radically transform the nature of work in the retail industry, much like driverless car and truck technology threatens to upend transportation.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that cashiers are the second-largest occupation, with 3.5 million employed in the U.S.

Analysts with Cowen say the move shows how aggressively Amazon is pursuing the grocery business, which represents about 17 percent of total U.S. retail, or nearly $800 billion. It’s an area dominated by Wal-Mart, an Amazon rival that is revving up its e-commerce game. For Amazon, it represents a huge source of potential revenue growth, plus another way to ensconce itself in people’s shopping habits.

While more and more people, especially among the younger cohorts, are going online for their groceries, “we acknowledge some people may never be comfortable with the idea,” say the Cowen analysts.

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