Checking out Amazon Go, the first no-checkout convenience store

Glenn Fleishman, Fast Company:

Every part of the U.S. has a different local term for a convenience store: the bodega, the corner store—even “the Wawa,” a chain name that Northeasteners use generically. Now Amazon wants to extend its brand to the notion of a grab-and-go shop with Amazon Go, a store that literally lets you grab and go.


Amazon Go works like—well, like a physical manifestation of Amazon’s 1-Click checkout, where you “click” by taking an item off a shelf. On arrival, you launch the Go app, which comes out today for iPhones and Android phones and connects to your Amazon account. It displays a 2D code that you scan at one of several glass security gates. The code identifies you to the store and opens the gate.


Once you’re in, AI algorithms start to track you and everything you pick up and keep. You can bag your items as you go if you so choose, and need interact with an employee only if you’re buying alcohol, in which case an associate standing in the liquor area will check your ID.


I tested the system by picking up a can of LaCroix water and leaving the store. It was a non-event, which is sort of the point. The experience doesn’t feel like an act of advanced technology unless you scan the ceiling and notice the hundreds of matte-black cameras surveying the shopping floor below.

This is the future of retail. Or, at least, a major step along that path. Two things occur to me:

  • This is a direct example of AI eliminating the need for specific jobs. Clearly, there are plenty of employees in the chain here, both in building out the store and designing and coding the AI itself. But those jobs are front loaded. Once the stores are built, and the AI in place, this will require very few people to run.

  • What happens if someone gets hold of your Amazon login info and goes on a spree through a store? If someone uses my credit card fraudulently, my credit card company covers me 100%. Does Amazon have a similar policy?

This is a great read.