The official opening of Amazon’s checkout-less store has been delayed after its camera and sensor technology can’t cope with more than 20 people inside the store at any given time.
Amazon Go uses machine learning and cameras to detect which items a customer has picked up and when they leave the store it is automatically charged to their Amazon account. Individuals are identified through the Amazon Go app on their smartphone, movements and interactions with products are tracked with cameras throughout the store. However, this technology is not quite ready for the high-streets just yet, as during beta testing the shop is struggling to keep track of more than 20 people.
According to WSJ, from an unnamed source, the automated system gets confused “if an item has been moved from its specific spot on the shelf.” It works when there are few people in the store and their movements are slow. However, with most brick and motor retail stores, you would expect some customers to pick up items before going somewhere else which could freak the system out as they may move too fast.
Amazon did plan to open their stores to the public early 2017 but it looks like we may have to wait a little longer for a checkout-less retail experience. Until then employees of the company will be serving as beta testers to ensure the store does not go haywire.
14/12/2016 - 'Checkout-less' Amazon Go Stores Are Coming To The UK
At this time of the year, any traditional retail store will likely have queues of customers lining up to the checkouts, which can seem frustrating especially if you’re in a rush. What if there was a way to pick the products you want and walk out of the store, paying for the item with no checkout and no queuing. Well, this is exactly the concept that Amazon has developed and it could well be a real game changer for retailers.
Amazon has created a new retail experience, named Amazon Go, its first store opened close to their headquarters in Seattle, US on 5th December. It is currently being used by Amazon employees and will be open to the public early next year.
The concept is simple, customers download an app (also called Amazon Go), walk around the store choosing the products they want and then walk out without queuing or any checkouts. Instead, sensors inside the store detect any items they pick up, keeping track of them in a virtual cart and when the customer exits the store with the product its payment is charged to their Amazon Prime account. Take a look at their introduction video to Amazon Go below:
Meanwhile, in the UK Amazon Go has recently registered a trademark indicating that they have plans to expand into Britain. Neil Campling, an analyst at Northern Trust Capital Markets, said: “Amazon want to disrupt and take out inefficiencies from retail whatever the format. We’ve seen Amazon try out pretty much every one of its ideas from the US in the UK and I wouldn’t be surprised if next year we see the launch of a very similar service.” It is a possibility that Amazon has chosen to expand into the UK market as British consumers are open to change, proven within online shopping.
Experts are debating the impact of such automated shopping experiences in the UK’s retail industry. Even before Amazon Go launched the British Retail Consortium predicted that the UK retail sector could see 900,000 job losses in the next decade as the ‘rate of change’ increases. If Amazon Go catches on in the UK it could have a negative impact on employment as more retailers will be forced to match its convenience. However, a new survey by YouGov asked the public if Amazon Go would solve more problems than it introduces and the majority of respondents disagreed.
In a report from Deloitte, they found technology has created more jobs than it has destroyed in the last 144 years. While manual labour driven jobs have been largely substituted by technologies, key non-routine cognitive roles have seen a 365% rise since 1992. These roles will be needed to develop Amazon Go stores such as telecom experts to implement the sensors and connectivity services while data analysists will have to handle all the data collected by the sensors.
This could truly be a game changer in terms of retailers adopting automation to place convenience above all else. Amazon will need to convince consumers to trust the reliability and convenience of its technology even if there is a potential loss of labour intensive jobs. We will have to wait until next year, and some years to follow, to find out the real impact of this technology.