Personnel-free shops enriched with modern technologies have been around in their infancies for a few years — in addition to vending machines, some remote neighborhood stores don’t need anyone to look after them except for troubleshooters and stockers thanks to cameras, mobile authentication apps and advanced point-of-sales systems.
The biggest name that would have joined the ranks in 2017 was Amazon, with its Amazon Go store concept. Only one store was announced at the base of its Seattle headquarters the previous year. It was then told that the store would only be available for employees to use — it was rumored that person-tracking software would be confused and Amazon wouldn’t be able to accurately log and service customers’ purchasing habits.
Now, Amazon has told The Wall Street Journal that it plans on opening the store to the public on Monday.
While not acknowledging the rumors, Dilip Kumar, vice president of technology for Amazon Go and Amazon Books, said that its vision system and algorithms have been thoroughly trained with the nuances of when people are “bending down,” “examining items,” and “picking things up.” On the product side, the system is now more able to read into product variations like flavor or dietary variants when customers hold the item in their hands.
An Amazon Go companion app, picked up by Android Police, has been released for Android. It acts as the customer identification medium, the payment medium (meaning that the store is cashless) and a product catalog. Customers will still have to interact with a store associate for purchasing alcohol, though, as identification will need to be shown.
No future plans have been set on the Amazon Go concept and neither will tracking technology be implemented into the Whole Foods supermarket chain, which Amazon acquired last year.