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Today, Amazon opened the doors of Amazon Go, a reimagined grocery store located on the ground floor of its Seattle offices, to the public. Already, the space has drummed up considerable conversation online and in the media—and rightfully so. It’s flipping all sorts of shopping conventions on their heads: the store is cart-less, cashless, and completely monitored by a ceiling (a ceiling!) of overhead cameras.
Talk about the grocery store began a year ago when the company started testing the concept with employees. A renewed bout of interest emerged this weekend as the store’s public opening approached. The store breaks from tradition in almost every way. For starters, you enter the store by swiping through a turnstile using the Amazon Go app, the store’s corresponding digital interface. A ceiling of overhead surveillance cameras monitor everything the customer picks up and keeps. This is all charged to an online shopping cart and registered through the visitors online Amazon profile.
There are no carts in the store, instead customers load their goods into bags or carry food out by hand. Nor are there are any cashiers—the store forgoes any exchange of currency. No actual cash is handed over, no credit card swiped.
The space resembles more of a bodega or convenience store than it does a fully fledged grocer. This reviewer compares it to the size of “a gas station mart.” And as far as its offerings, the shelves are stocked mainly with packaged, ready to consume lunches and snacks, like salads or sandwiches, prepared by a kitchen team in the back of the store. For larger, more substantial meals, customers can shop through a selection of boxed meal-kits. In addition, visitors can buy drinks or convenience store-like items such as eggs, milk, or jars of peanut butter. Because of Amazon's acquisition of Whole Foods, it comes as no surprise that this initial store has a small section where they sell 365, the grocer’s in-house brand. Whether or not Amazon plans to roll out this technology to all Whole Foods stores remains to be seen.
After a year of testing, the store is officially ready to welcome the public. By the end of today, we'll have a better idea of just how well the technology works. Will one of these cashless stores be coming to a city near you? Is this the way we’re to shop in the future? Has Amazon taken over the world yet? I guess we’ll have to wait and see. Happy shopping, Seattle!