You will not find a squeaking hot dog rotisserie in Amazon.com’s cashier-less convenience store. Instead, you will see Mediterranean lamb sandwiches, fresh salads and to-go containers of fruit.
After more than a year of testing with an employee focus group, Amazon Go opened to the public last week in downtown Seattle, putting to the test the online retailer’s technology that lets shoppers grab what they want and pay online.
The inventory caters to health-conscious, affluent millennials rushing to their next meeting or home. There are typical convenience store staples like peanut butter, milk, eggs and bread. Freshly made items get prominent shelf space, as do veggie chips and other products from the Whole Foods “365 Everyday Value” brand.
“We got a lot of feedback on selection,” Amazon Go’s Vice President of technology Dilip Kumar said.
Amazonians prefer their salad dressing on the side, for instance. And boxed meal kits to be cooked at home should be clearly labeled if they are vegan or gluten-free.
Amazon Go is the company’s most ambitious effort to change the way people shop in stores and a play for the struggling $550 billion U.S. convenience store industry. Amazon hopes the cashier-less technology will help it stand out from the nation’s 150,000 convenience stores where traffic jams can form at the checkout counter.
It’s all part of the company’s larger brick-and-mortar ambitions, which include a stepped-up push into groceries by acquiring Whole Foods Market and opening bookstores in large markets.
To enter the Amazon Go store, customers download a smartphone app and scan a QR code to open a glass turnstile. Those shopping in a group scan the account holder’s phone once for each person entering and sensors will associate them with that account.
From there, machines take over, watching the items plucked from shelves and adding them to a shopping cart.
Shoppers are billed once they leave and if there are any mistakes or the customer isn’t happy with an item, you push a “refund” button to have that item removed from the bill.
The system at the store in Amazon’s new Seattle headquarters complex is designed around the honor system.