Amazon Go is kicking off the age of the fully automated convenience store, where the common attributes of retail are nowhere to be found. There is no cash, there are no registers, and human interaction is basically nil. Amazon Go is something that we couldn’t have pictured just a few years ago: a seamless robotic shopping experience executed with digital precision.
Amazon, which is known for making huge media splashes intended to blow our minds, previously shocked the hell out of us by showing us that packages could conceivably be delivered by drones. Today, they have once again delivered another sucker punch to our collective heads, fully demonstrating that the future is indeed now. Forgot those annoying self-checkout machines — Amazon wants you to shop til’ you drop, and then exit the store as if you just committed petty larceny.
The first store, located in Amazon’s hometown of Seattle, is already open to the company’s employees. Supposedly, should all go well, thousands of Amazon Go stores are slated to pop up around the country in the near future.
Amazon Go works by using computer vision and sensors to detect what items you’re taking out of the store. You start by scanning an app as you enter the Amazon Go shop. You do your normal shopping, and the sensors throughout the store identify the items in your cart and charge them to your account when you walk out the door. It’ll feel like shoplifting, except you’re actually being watched by more cameras than you can imagine.
Amazon Go sounds peachy, but shopping there is contingent on having an Amazon account and a smart phone, two things which are common but by no means universal. While the idea is solid, it’s going to take a bit of adaptation for the average consumer to adjust their shopping habits to this revolutionary retail concept.
Needless to say, the long term impact of this type of shopping is unknown. Studies show that people tend to buy less when they pay with cash instead of credit cards. Lord only knows how completely eliminating the checkout process will affect spending habits, but we can only assume more spendthrift behavior.
Lastly, this exciting and consumer-centered shopping experience could potentially lead to less jobs. Automation has the power to destroy jobs faster than the new economy creates them. Make no mistake, Amazon Go and other similar retail concepts that will follow will cast doubt upon the viability of millions of jobs.
Yet again, we find another example of how our future is a frightening and exciting proposition.
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