Amazon's cashierless store concept is being tested for use in large stores

Greg S

Posts: 1,607   +442

Grab-and-go style shopping within Amazon Go stores may be introduced to full size supermarkets and retail stores. Wall Street Journal sources indicate that Amazon is currently operating its vision system in a space setup "like a big store" in the Seattle area.

Should Amazon's testing turn out to be successful, there is a very obvious application of where the technology may end up. Whole Foods could apply the cashierless concept to its stores. Prime members already receive exclusive discounts at Amazon's Whole Foods stores, so offering the benefit of avoiding checkout lines at some point in the future is not too outlandish.

Inside of Amazon's Go stores, products are systematically placed on shelves full of indicators that are easily recognized by computer vision systems. Carefully crafted QR codes and shelves with shapes painted on them make it easy to discern the difference between products. Scaling up to a full size brick-and-mortar store will have its share of challenges since not every product is conducive to being easily marked with identifiers.

Fresh produce, fruits, and vegetables that are often sold be weight are just some of the items that could be difficult to accurately track. Customers in regular grocery stores and retail locations also have vastly different expectations than the early adopters that might consider going to Amazon Go.

Regular shoppers likely would not be thrilled about having to carefully check their receipts to make sure that the computer system did not accidentally charge them for the wrong items. Go Store shoppers are more likely to be accepting of mistakes and probably would not be too upset by having to click a few buttons on their smartphone to request a refund.

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Posts: 2,569   +1,847
Imagine NO CHECKOUT lines.
Then, everyone will be saying this will put people out of work.
LOL, ever been in a walmart? 30 checkout lines, most not even being used.
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Posts: 2,061   +2,619
This system if rife for abuse. imagine when somebody figures out how to fool the robo scanners so they get food for free. Wont be long until everyone is doing it.

then they will have to come up with this revolutionary new job, where when you buy things, this person would scan them to make sure your final bill is correct.


Posts: 440   +330
There are some ways they could handle items sold by weight:
  1. You have a scale where you input the product code (I.e. "4011" for bananas, "94011" for organic bananas -- those codes are pretty much universal), then you scan the generated code on the screen to add it to your order. Kroger & Giant Eagle work that way with their new "scan-as-you-go" devices (you log into the device with your shopper's account, then use the scanner on every item you purchase, then scan the barcode at the u-scan or self-service register to load your purchases into the register). The only issue is that the ones used by Kroger & Giant Eagle are essentially just like the normal UPC scanners at the register, whereas Amazon would probably have to add some sort of QR Code reading ability into their app (as there would be no QR code on the produce or items for the store's cameras to detect). And I'm not sure how that works for removing the item from your order if you decide not to purchase it after all.
  2. Amazon simply prepackages all of the items in a "standard" size (I.e. as close to 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 lbs, or other sizes) so that the bag or container can use the same QR codes that boxed & canned goods have. The only issue would be for those for whom even a 1-lb bunch is more than they want.
As for Whole Foods, they'd be better off adopting something similar to the Giant Eagle/Kroger method I mentioned before. They could even come up with a smartphone app that would work similarly, & could be tied into the Amazon account. But I have to be honest, I really, really, really don't like the idea of "We wll automatically charge you for what we think you bought as soon as you exit the store, & if there's any issue you'll need to contact us afterwards to maybe get a refund". We always keep a close eye on the register when we shop -- whether using a real cashier or a self-scan register -- so that any discrepancies in prices can be immediately rectified by the store before we even pay. We both work during the day & prefer to spend our free time on things we enjoy; wrangling with a company about how many of Product X we bought is not on our list of things we enjoy doing.
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