Amazon unveiled Amazon Go – its experimental cashierless store in downtown Seattle – last December, but a recent Bloomberg report suggests its launch date may be looming ever closer.
Amazon planned to open the store to the public early this year. However, the company encountered technical difficulties and postponed the launch to work out the bugs.
Seven months later, challenges remain, but the “just walk out” technology has “improved markedly,” according to a Bloomberg source.
Aligning with this concept that the store “is almost ready for prime time,” the hiring process for the Amazon Go team has reportedly shifted from the engineers and research scientists needed to perfect the platform, to the construction managers and marketers who would build and promote the stores to customers.
The idea of the cashierless store is to let consumers walk in, pick up items and then pay for them without ever standing in line at a cashier. Amazon is vague on the mechanics, but the store relies on a mobile app and some of the same sensing technology that powers self-driving cars to figure out who is buying what.
Shoppers visiting an Amazon Go store will scan their smartphones upon entering. Cameras and shelf sensors will then work together to figure out which items have been removed and who removed them, the person says; there will be no need for tracking devices, such as radio frequency chips, embedded in the merchandise. When shoppers leave, algorithms will total the order and bill their Amazon account.
The concept represents Amazon.com Inc.’s most ambitious effort yet to transform the brick-and-mortar shopping experience by eliminating the checkout line, saving customers time and furthering the company’s reputation for convenience.
According to the Bloomberg report, the system is working well for individual shoppers but still struggles to accurately charge people who are moving around in groups, such as families with “grabby kids.”