It sound too good to be true: a bricks-and-mortar grocery store without checkout tills or queues of customers. Yet that’s what online retailer Amazon has done in its home city of Seattle in the US. Called Amazon Go, it uses sensors to detect what shoppers have taken from the shelves and then sends a bill to their Amazon account.
The store is currently only open to employees as it is in the trial phase, but the company intends to open several similar stores for public use next year and, if successful, could open as many as 2 000 grocery outlets across the US. Items on offer to customers include bread, milk, and ready-to-eat meals that are made on-site.
While Amazon is primarily an e-commerce business, it does operate a bricks-and-mortar book shop in Seattle and often has pop-up stores at malls to sell items such as the Kindle e-reader. It also has an online grocery offering called AmazonFresh, and the intention is that the physical stores will complement this service.
A report by Reuters news agency quotes retail research expert Neil Saunders as saying: “The checkout lines are always the most inefficient parts of the store experience. Not only would you save a lot on labour costs, you actually make the process much quicker for consumers and much more satisfying.”
He added that the grab-and-go approach would take getting used to, as some people might feel like they were ‘stealing’ items from the store.