You should never bet against Amazon, unless you're a masochist, which I am not. So, I'm going to predict that the newly-announced Amazon Go cashierless convenience stores will be wildly successful when they are rolled out, beginning with the first store in Seattle in early 2017. I also expect that these stores–there may be up to 2,000 stores ultimately, coast-to-coast–will be customer experience trendsetters, not only in convenience stores and groceries, but elsewhere in retail and in other industries as well. We don't know many details yet of the Amazon Go model, except that it's designed so customers will be able to enter the store, purchase items, and exit entirely without employee intervention. After you're registered automatically via your smartphone as you enter, you can take items off the shelf, put them in your shopping basket, change your mind and re-shelf them, grab more items, and ultimately walk out the door, at which point your purchase will be calculated accurately and charged to your phone/card account.
Cashierless store Zippin will open its doors to customers in San Francisco for the first time this week, beating Amazon Go to become the first cashierless store in the city. The first Go store opened in Seattle in January. New cashierless stores from Amazon are scheduled to be opened in San Francisco and Chicago, Amazon announced in May. An Amazon spokesperson asked for details about when additional Go stores will open had not responded at the time this story was published. As with Amazon Go and competitors like Inokyo, which opened a cashierless store in Mountain View, California last week, to shop at the Zippin store you must first download an app that gives you a QR code and then scan the code when you enter the store.
While Amazon continues to test out its cashier and checkout-less Go stores, Reuters reports that Microsoft is working on similar technology. Besides a number of partners who are working on products in the vein of Amazon Go -- which allows shoppers to simply take items off the shelf, put them in their cart and leave with a bill automatically tabulated based on computer vision watching what they buy -- it has an internal team that has tried out using cameras attached to shopping carts and mobile apps. The report calls out a small team within the company's Business AI group dedicated to retail tech, and said CEO Satya Nadella recommended a device that could live on-site to manage cameras without transferring data to the cloud. Microsoft isn't new to the space and in 2017 it showed off a slew of retail-focused products at the National Retail Federation's Big Show event that included a version of the Skip mobile app that's in testing in grocery stores. With Skip, shoppers scan each item as they shop using the app, then check out on their phone when they've finished.
Amazon is set to test its cashier-less checkouts in bigger stores, according to the latest report. The firm is already testing the Amazon Go system in small convenience stores which are less than 2,500 square feet (232 square metres) large in Seattle, San Francisco and Chicago. However, reports suggest the firm would like to start implementing the checkout-free system in Whole Foods stores, which are typically 40,000 square feet (3,700 square metres) large. In September it was revealed Amazon was looking to open 3,000 of its cashier-less stores by 2021. Amazon is set to test its cashier-less checkouts in bigger stores, according to the latest report (file photo).