Amazon Go, Seattle

When we visited Seattle last week, we had the opportunity to experience the much talked about Amazon Go. Open to the public since January, customers can quite literally pick up the goods and walk out without paying at a checkout. Instead sensors record the items you pick up and charge it to an Amazon account.

No Lines. No Checkout. (No, seriously)

Boards outside the store advise that you need to download the app to enter, so we joined a group of other people all doing just that, using the store Wi-Fi that extended out into the street! After an initial minute of faffing with remembering Amazon passwords and confirming credit cards, once downloaded you’re set up forever and ready to shop.

From the outside the impressive fascia contains windows that look into an active kitchen, where 5 or 6 people are preparing fresh lunches to be sold in store. The windows also feature hanging graphics stating ‘Just Walk Out’ and dog owners can leave their pups on a cute dog bone built into the exterior wall.

The store is entered through electronic barriers where the app is scanned on your phone to record your visit, just like at an airport when you scan your boarding card. You can also ‘scan in’ a guest if they don’t have the app and you pay for what they pick up – how they track this is a mystery, but it works! We also learnt to be careful not to pick anything up for someone else otherwise you get charged.

The store is laid out like an upmarket convenience store, selling breakfast, lunch, snacks, meal kits and essentials. It felt very targeted towards the lunchtime rush (especially as we were there at lunch and it was very busy). They also sold alcohol, however this area was staffed for ID checks. Despite the high presence of technology, the use of wood, charcoal and graphics makes it feel comfortable, warm and friendly… and like a ‘normal’ premium food store.

However, look up and you’ll see the hundreds of cameras and sensors built into the ceiling – watching and tracking our every move!

Whilst there were a number of people like us trying for the first time, (all commenting ‘I’m just stealing this’!), the store was extremely busy, with customers clearly using this as part of their day to day routine, very naturally.

Just Walk Out

Drop your items into a paper bag (or free for a limited time reusable tote bag) and when you’re done just walk through the gates and as the name suggests… Go. You don’t even need to scan to get out.

After exiting the barriers there is also a small seating area with condiments and microwaves, where you can sit and eat, or even prepare a meal. As the volume of people using the store suggests (and as the fresh food looked amazing quality) you would find it hard to resist using on a daily basis.

Once you’ve left the store, the app acknowledges your visit and states ‘purchase pending’. Within around 5 mins a receipt pops up along with an email confirmation. The app allows you to dispute anything that is wrong by sliding the item left or right (just like when you delete an email on the iPhone), our receipt was correct so this wasn’t an issue.

If the commerciality of all that technology becomes accessible, and more than a great marketing exercise about what technology can really do – then using a till in a commodity shopping journey will quickly become a thing of the past.

Initially sceptical of it being a bit gimmicky… We are now fully converted and can easily see how it could naturally become part of day to day life!


Adrian Briggs

6th August 2018

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