Amazon Go pioneers grocery shopping without checkout lines, cashier jobs

Michael Walsh
·Reporter

No lines. No checkouts. … No cashier jobs?

On Monday morning, Amazon unveiled its new vision for the future of brick-and-mortar grocery stores: Amazon Go.

The new service offered by the online-shopping colossus allows customers to walk into the store, grab what they want and simply leave the building — without interacting with another human being or waiting in line.

Amazon says the company brought together the most advanced machine learning and artificial intelligence to eliminate cash registers in a new 1,800-square-foot store in Seattle.

Amazon Go is already open to Amazon employees through its beta program and is scheduled to open to the public in early 2017.

As seen in a video released by the company, shoppers scan a code from the Amazon Go app on their smartphones at a kiosk and then proceed to fill up their carts. The video’s narrator says that a virtual cart automatically registers every time a customer picks up or puts down an item and that Amazon accounts are only charged once someone leaves the store.

“We used computer vision, deep-learning algorithms and sensor fusion much like you’d find in self-driving cars. We call it “Just Walk Out Technology,’” he says.

According to Amazon, the store will offer ready-to-eat breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack options, as well as grocery essentials like bread and milk. It is located at 2131 Seventh Avenue in Seattle.

Reaction to the e-commerce giant’s new technology is unsurprisingly split between people who are impressed with the convenience and those alarmed by what this means for cashiers, one of the most common occupations in the United States. If this innovation is broadly adopted, it would drastically change the landscape of the retail industry.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are 3,478,420 cashiers in the U.S. earning a mean hourly wage of $10.09 per hour.

An Amazon spokesperson referred Yahoo News to the company’s announcement about the new store.

“Four years ago, we asked ourselves: What if we could create a shopping experience with no lines and no checkout?” the website reads in part. “Could we push the boundaries of computer vision and machine learning to create a store where customers could simply take what they want and go? Our answer to those questions is Amazon Go and Just Walk Out Shopping.”