Amazon opened its first “fully automated” cashier-free grocery store in Seattle, Washington on Monday, Jan. 22. The new Amazon Go grocery store — the first of its kind in the world — allows shoppers to “Just Walk Out” of the store without passing through a checkout line.
The fully automated store utilizes a high-tech approach to shopping. Customers walk into the store and scan their cellphones before selecting items off the shelves and walking out.
Hundreds of cameras and automated scanners follow shoppers around the store and scan everything they pick up. When shoppers leave the store, their purchases are automatically charged to their credit cards.
But the technology is not foolproof.
A CNBC reporter says she “accidentally stole” a cup of yogurt after the item was not detected by the store’s technology when she walked out.
“We packed a shopping bag full of cookies, snap peas and Amazon-branded drinkware — all of which appeared on a virtual receipt moments later. But a single-serve Siggi’s yogurt cup was noticeably dropped from the list,” wrote CNBC’s Deirdre Bosa.
She promptly reported the error to Amazon execs who told her not to worry about the yogurt.
“First and foremost, enjoy the yogurt on us,” Vice President of Amazon Go Gianna Puerini said.
“It happens so rarely that we didn’t even bother building in a feature for customers to tell us it happened. So thanks for being honest and telling us. I’ve been doing this a year and I have yet to get an error. So we’ve tried to make it super easy on the rare occasion that does happen either to remove it or enjoy breakfast on us.”
Puerini added that the technology “has been working great,” and she said the company has no plans to introduce the technology into Amazon-owned Whole Foods locations or to license the technology to other retailers.
Critics complain the new technology could result in a loss of jobs around the country if stores no longer hire cashiers.
Amazon didn’t explain what happens if shoppers don’t have cellphones when they enter the store.