I was recently in Seattle meeting Microsoft but took the opportunity to visit an Amazon Go (7th & Blanchard).

Amazon Go

Amazon Go is an automated grocery store, allowing you to purchase items without any human intervention. You simply enter the store by scanning a QR code on the Amazon Go app. Once inside, you are free to fill your bag with items and leave when finished.

The two images below are from my smartphone, showing the key (I have removed the QR code) and receipt for my purchase. The receipt appears within the app after a few minutes of leaving the store.

Amazon Go

Unsurprisingly, the store is packed with technology to support the purchase, checkout, and payment processes. This includes computer vision, deep learning, and sensors, specifically a camera array on the ceiling (see image below) and weight sensors under specific items.

Amazon Go

The combination of these technologies allows for each customer to be tracked whilst in the store, including what items they take (and return) from the shelves.

I cannot speak to the accuracy of the process, but it did work flawlessly for my purchase. This included multiple people entering the store under my QR code, each removing and returning multiple items on different shelves.

Overall, I was impressed with the process and admire Amazon for trialing a radically different and innovative approach to grocery shopping. As a customer, it was certainly a strange experience, entering and exiting a store without any obvious payment process.

I do have questions about the scalability of the approach, as I assume the technology (today) is far more expensive than simply having a couple of staff support the checkout process. It also has specific limitations, for example, due to local laws, human intervention is still required when purchasing alcohol, etc.

With that said, I hope Amazon continues to refine the process and opens more stores around the world.