Amazon Go, the grocery store of the future where shoppers can just walk in and walk out with what they want (no dealing with sassy cashiers necessary), has finally arrived for the public, and Seattle’s the first lucky city to get one.
Naturally, a checkout-less physical shopping experience is uncharted territory. What is it like and how does it work? Not to worry, because we’ve got answers for your burning questions.
How does it work?
Upon entering the store, you scan the app at one of the entrance’s turnstiles. Then, you simply go up to shelf, grab what you want to buy, dump it in your bag, and the app automagically rings all your items up — no scanning required.
And how exactly does the app keep track of all the things you’re placing in your shopping bag? According to Amazon, its “Walk Out” technology uses “computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning” to track what you’ve purchased.
Gotta love the tech jargon, but what that means in non-geek speak is: There are sensors on the shelves that detect when an item’s been removed and added back. Cameras placed all over the store will scan the dotted-code on an item’s label and add it to your receipt, and then ta-da!
Amazon Prime not required
Yep, you read that right. For once, Amazon’s not forcing you into paying for its Prime membership in order to get the latest perk. All you need to shop at the Go store is the app.
What does the Go store look like?
GeekWire’s Todd Bishop did a Facebook Live stream inside of the store (see above). There are white turnstiles (kinda like ones you find inside of subway stations) at the entrance with QR code scanners to scan your phone.
Bishop says “a little above 90 people” (the maximum capacity to abide by the fire code) are allowed inside of the store at once.
And it looks squeaky clean! The store looks bright and the aisles appear roomy.
It’s only open Monday-Friday
In other words: You’re sh*t out of luck if you do your grocery shopping on the weekends like a genuine basic millennial.
The line to get in is loooooong
Living in or visiting Seattle and eager to check out the Go store for yourself? Good luck, because the line to get in is extremely long.
If you have time to wait to get in a store to shop, you definitely have time to wait on line at a store with cashiers or self-checkouts. Same thing, buddy. Who knows when the lines will shorten.
There’s still a staff
Just because there aren’t any cashiers doesn’t mean the store’s devoid of any helpful staff. Twitter user Cory Nelson made a video of his shopping experience and confirmed there are in-store workers to help you out if you have questions, need help finding something, or maybe something screws up.
You can get in and out FAST
The whole point of Amazon Go is to help you get in, buy what you need, and get the hell out. Go to a park if you want to bump into your future soulmate.
Some people are reporting customers getting in and out in a minute. One minute!
For single shoppers only?
Because the app is necessary to track your every purchase, it looks like you may have to leave your significant other, friend(s), and kid(s) at home if they don’t have a device with the app installed.
Makes sense. You can’t get past the turnstiles if you don’t scan the app. We’ve reached out to Amazon to confirm whether this is truly the case.
#AmazonGo allows only people who have the app into their stores. Forget shopping w/ your spouse or kids! Watch them roll out a chip so regardless of who places the items into the cart at the store, they’re charged to 1 family account, like having multi profiles on 1 Netflix acct.
— Rachel Stephens (@RachelNStephens) January 22, 2018
And then there’s this:
Yeah, clearly shopping at a Go store is not a communal thing.
See prices ahead of time
How many times have you gone to a grocery store, only to see that something costs way to much? Or how many times have you had to go to multiple stores just to find the lowest price for an item?
Well, never again. According to Twitter user Andrew Martonik, the Go app lists prices for all of the items sold in the store, so you can decide before you head over whether the price is right.
One thing that immediately makes Amazon Go appealing: the app shows you prices for everything in the store before you get there. Downtown convenience stores typically have many items with absurd prices, and you don’t find out until you’re in there (and end up just buying it). pic.twitter.com/nHx6TL2cM0
— Andrew Martonik (@andrewmartonik) January 22, 2018
Cheaper prices (maybe)
Early customers of the Go store have found some items to be cheaper than Whole Foods, at least for all-essential things like La Croix:
It’s not like you need anything else but flavored seltzer water, right? Of course you don’t.
Food stamps aren’t accepted
Unfortunately not, Slate reports. Amazon confirmed to the publication the store doesn’t accept EBT.
You would think that since Amazon owns Whole Foods, which does take food stamps, its own Go stores would take them too. But sadly, for now, they don’t. We’ve reached out to Amazon for comment on future plans for EBT.
I just confirmed: the new Amazon Go store does not accept food stamps.
— april glaser (@aprilaser) January 22, 2018
You might accidentally shoplift something
Though customers have said Amazon’s cameras and sensors are pretty accurate tracking which items you pull off shelves and place in your bag, there’s also a chance they might forget to charge you for something, just like a careless cashier:
Smile for all the cameras
Think you can get away with shoplifting the place? HAHAHA. Think again. The second you enter the store the many cameras installed on the ceiling will have captured who knows how many photos of you from every angle.
Note the form chosen for the cameras in the Amazon Go store – camouflaged and near-featureless. Imagine how replacing them all with traditional CCTV cameras would change the space, and its effect on people. The continual bait-and-switch of convenience for privacy. pic.twitter.com/wJrLVoORco
— Wesley Goatley (@wesleygoatley) January 22, 2018
We’re pretty sure the cops won’t have a hard time finding you.
Lots of unanswered questions
Amazon Go sounds like the perfect grocery shopping experience, but there are still a lot of things nobody has answers to yet, like:
What happens when someone likely to shoplift, like kids the homeless or poor folks, what happens when they jump the gates grab some stuff and take off? What happens when somebody steals a phone with an Amazon app and uses it to empty the shelves?
— Aaron B Brown (@AaronBBrown) January 22, 2018