Amazon's checkout-free Go concept has officially morphed into a supermarket. Amazon Go Grocery opens in Seattle today, with 5,000 items for sale across the 10,400-square-foot premises. Using a range of cameras, shelf sensors and software, shoppers can pick up the items they want and simply walk out the door -- their accounts are charged via a smartphone app as they leave.
While this isn't a brand new concept – Amazon has been running a number of Go convenience stores since 2018 -- this is the first time the technology has been implemented on such a large scale. Shoppers can choose from a much wider range of goods, such as organic produce and wine, making the concept a much more viable alternative to the usual weekly shop involving scanners and checkouts. Indeed, the store has been positioned closer to residential areas -- as opposed to business districts -- to encourage this.
And it could get even bigger. Speaking to The Wall Street Journal, Amazon Go vice president Dilip Kumar said, "There's no real upper bound. It could be five times as big, it could be 10 times as big." Kumar hasn't clarified exactly how many Go Grocery stores the company has planned, although it has previously said it hopes to open as many 3,000 Go convenience stores by 2021.
Leveraging Amazon's Go technology on this larger scale, however, has not been without challenges. As GeekWire reports, implementing accurate weighing and pricing for goods such as loose produce has been a major focus for the larger stores, especially ensuring it's done in a way that shoppers can intuitively engage with. Other obstacles have been circumnavigated entirely --– there's no meat or seafood counter, for example, and no on-site food preparation. Fresh meat products are instead brought in throughout the week, individually wrapped. When it comes to alcohol, there's a human on hand to check IDs.
While the new store is certainly indicative of Amazon's own plans for cashless grocery shopping in the future, it's also designed to act as a showpiece for the technology overall. As The Wall Street Journal reports, the company has been discussing licensing its cashless platform to a number of potential partners, including other convenience stores and shops in airports and sports arenas. And as this kind of technology is implemented in more and more spaces, it might not be long until the concept of carrying a wallet is almost completely redundant.