When it opened to staff in late 2016 it seemed to me to be a gimmick, a store with no checkout, no register? Just walk in, grab what you want and go? Amazon Go has since opened to the public – so – what’s it like?
A little over a year ago Amazon let their public customers come into that first store in Seattle, and now they have ten stores across America, in Seattle, Chicago and San Francisco.
This morning, I went to the San Francisco store on California & Battery Sts to try it out for myself.
First and foremost, I expected I’d need a US Amazon account with a US credit card – nope, downloaded the Amazon Go app and logged in with my Aussie account – no drama.
The app itself is very very simple. A list of store locations, a list of your receipts, a list of available products including ready-to-go meals at a specific store, and perhaps most importantly – your Key.
A QR Code is your key to the store. This is all you need to shop.
Inside the main doors of the store is a set of turnstiles, kinda like what you’d get at a train station.
Walk up to the entry turnstiles and scan your “key” – gates open and in you walk.
From here, you don’t need your phone, your wallet – anything.
Just walk around, grab what you need.
There’s drinks, snacks, lollies, sauces, meals, basic convenience store items. In Aussie terms, it’s like a decent sized corner store but with a larger and better variety of ready-to-eat meals.
If things are getting hard to carry – grab a bag. Though this is when you will need your phone again – you have to add the cost of the bag to your account in the App.
You do not have to carry the items in plain sight, you can put them in your bags, your pocket whatever you like.
Because Big-Brother is watching. Above you are sensors, cameras and goodness only knows what else.
All that high-tech stuff in the ceiling is tracking you, everywhere you walk. It sees what you pickup from the shelves, it also sees what you put back.
I put back multiple items, none of which I was charged for
When you’re done – just walk out. Literally.
Back at the start, there’s at least one turnstile heading out, you walk out, and a short moment later your phone will buzz and tell you how long you were in the store for and how much you’ve been charged.
An itemised list is available in the app.
I’m sure it’s complex when the store is busy – the store can’t handle too many people inside so will restrict numbers, thus you are more likely to queue to get in than to get out. But having visited on a public holiday, when things were quiet, it was a great experience.
Having seen it now, I’m sold. For a quick drink and snack or a sandwich or other meal – Amazon Go will be my go-to in the USA if available.
Will we see this technology in Australia? No doubt, probably not from Amazon though, at least in the short term – but if they do – it will be a big hit.
Trev is a Technology Commentator, Dad, Speaker and Rev Head.
He produces and hosts two popular podcasts, EFTM and Two Blokes Talking Tech. He also appears on over 50 radio stations across Australia weekly, and is the resident Tech Expert on Channel 9’s Today Show each day and appears regularly on A Current Affair.
Father of three, he is often found down in his Man Cave.