Monday, 29 November 2021

Amazon opens a checkout-free supermarket

Amazon

In a move that could revolutionise the way we buy groceries, Amazon opens its first supermarket without checkouts – human or self-service – to shoppers on Monday.

Amazon Go, in Seattle, has been tested by staff for the past year.

It uses an array of ceiling-mounted cameras to identify each customer and track what items they select, eliminating the need for billing.

Purchases are billed to customers’ credit cards when they leave the store.

Before entering, shoppers must scan the Amazon Go smartphone app. Sensors on the shelves add items to the bill as customers pick them up – and deletes any they put back.

The store opened to employees of the online retail giant in December 2016 and had been expected to allow the public in more quickly.

But there were some teething problems with correctly identifying shoppers of similar body types – and children moving items to the wrong places on shelves, according to an Amazon insider.

Gianna Puerini, head of Amazon Go, said the store had operated well during the test phase: “This technology didn’t exist – it was really advancing the state of the art of computer vision and machine learning.”

While its stores may not yet be moneyspinners, analysts have said Amazon is using them to raise brand awareness and promote its Prime membership scheme. Prime members pay online prices at its bookstores, for example, while non-members are charged the cover price.

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