Will Amazon End Queues?
When Amazon announced that it was to open a self-service grocery store that promised a no queues, no checkouts, just take what you want from the shelves and go experience, we didn’t quite believe it. But it’s true. It’s open.
Last month, Amazon Go’s first store opened to Amazon employees near its Seattle headquarters and the store will open to the public very soon. The concept is simple, kind of. Customers enter the 1800 sq. ft. store and scan their mobile device on a barrier, which recognises their unique Amazon Prime account. Then they just shop, putting things straight in their bag. The offer includes prepared foods and grocery staples like bread, cheese and milk. Advanced machine learning and computer vision tracks exactly what is picked up and charges it to the Prime account. Even if something is put back, it knows that too and takes it off the bill. Then, just walk out and your bill is emailed to you immediately. Like shoplifting, but it’s not.
Currently being tested on Amazon employees, the idea follows similar ventures into bricks and mortar retailing by Amazon, having opened their Seattle book store last summer, with titles retailing for the same price as they do online. Their latest UK venture – Amazon Now, where customers can receive a selection of household goods, books, electricals and even food and drink delivered within a two-hour time slot to certain postcodes – might be testing the water for “food by Amazon” on this side of the Atlantic before releasing the shop and go concept on us. Amazon registered the Amazon Go trademark in the UK on 5 December 2016.
Before the launch of Amazon Go, a report by The Guardian detailed the British Retail Consortium’s prediction that nearly one third of the UK’s 3 million shop jobs would disappear by 2025 as companies favour technology over human staff. If Amazon Go becomes a success in the US and subsequently continues the trend in the UK, established retailers would feel pressure to emulate the model.
Are the days of unexpected items in the bagging areas numbered? Check out the video here.