Imagine a convenience store where you can grab whatever you want and walk out without having to wait in line nor checking out. This kind of store is now a reality thanks to Amazon. Amazon Go is the first store of its kind and it just opened its doors in Seattle this January.
On my recent trip to Seattle (read about it here), I made it a point to stop by the Amazon Go store to see what all the fuss was about and to experience it. Before visiting the store, this is the video I watched that got me pumped about it.
I’m sure you just watched that video and are now asking yourself, “That’s a unique concept, but what’s it really like?” That’s why I am writing this post to answer your questions by using my first-hand experience. So here it goes:
How does it work?
When we went to the Amazon Go store, Eddy had the Amazon Go app already downloaded on his phone. We walked in and an employee helped us scan in. Eddy scanned in for both of us, and then we were allowed past the gated entrance into the store. We picked up the items that we wanted off the shelves and the items automatically showed up on the app like this. Amazon calls the technology they use in their store “Just Walk Out Technology.”
That’s because when we walked out, we didn’t have to go to a cashier nor check out. We were able to just walk out of the store with our belongings and go about our day. How does Amazon Go do this you ask? Well, they use cameras and sensors throughout the store to track the items and movements. If you grab something and put it back on the shelf, the system will know and remove it from your virtual shopping cart. Same goes with when you put items into your shopping bag.
Has the system failed?
Yes, but Amazon doesn’t really feel concerned about it because it’s only happened a handful of times. Amazon truly believes in the high-tech system they have implemented and are willing to take the loss if it fails.
There was a case last month where a CNBC reporter wasn’t charged for a yogurt from the Amazon Go store.
— Deirdre Bosa (@dee_bosa) January 22, 2018
She tweeted about the experience and Amazon Go’s vice president told her to enjoy the breakfast on Amazon. She went on to say that accidental shoplifting “happens so rarely that we didn’t even bother building in a feature for customers to tell us it happened” on The Verge. So I really don’t think Amazon is worried about shoplifters, I mean everyone has to scan in with the app so it’d be rather difficult to do it considering all the cameras and sensors. I read another article about a New York Times tech writer who went into the store and tried to trick the cameras and sensors with permission from Amazon, of course, and he failed. He tried sneaking out with a pack of sodas by hiding it under his grocery bag, and when we walked he received a receipt.
What does it look like inside and outside?
The 1,800-square foot Amazon Go store is at the ground level of the Amazon headquarters. You can’t miss it because the Amazon Spheres are right next to it. The Spheres are a botanical garden workspace for Amazon employees. You seriously can’t miss the Spheres. They are huge! The public is allowed enter the ground level of the Spheres called “Understory” from 7th Ave. It’s informative and tells you more about their purpose. The only way to actually get inside of the Spheres is by selling an Amazon HQ tour.
If you walk up a block from the Spheres you will find the Amazon Go storefront. There will be two greeters on the outside that will lead you through the stairway entrance. Once you are inside the store, you will be greeted by another Amazon employee who will help you scan in your phone at the gate. Once you get through the gates, you will see the aisles of food, snacks and drinks. Inside, it looks like an upscale 7-Eleven.
How much does everything cost?
The prices were reasonable. I didn’t see anything super expensive.
What kind of items do they sell?
Chips. Artisan sandwiches. Drinks. Soda. Packaged fruit. Wraps. Salads. Dry fruit. Nuts. Baked goods. Pre-made meals. Alcohol.
They even had a souvenir section where you can buy an Amazon Go mug or water bottle.
Eddy and I made a pit stop to the Amazon Go store before heading over the airport. We got a quick breakfast: two egg and bacon sandwiches with pineapple. They had a section inside where you could sit down and eat your food, so that’s what we did. There were some microwaves available to heat up your food as well as napkins, utensils and water on tap. I loved the set up.
Note: In the alcohol section there is Amazon Go employee checking IDs so be prepared to show it.
What are the store hours?
Don’t make the same mistake as Eddy and I. We showed up at the Amazon Go store around 7 p.m. on a Saturday. Well it turns out, Amazon Go is closed on weekends. Its hours are from 7 a.m. through 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and it’s located at 2131 7th Ave, Seattle, WA.
Will they be opening more locations?
The rumor is that more Amazon Go stores will opened this year. According to Recode, some of the possible locations are in Seattle and The Grove in Los Angeles.
Overall, I highly recommend visiting this one-of-a-kind store if you are in Seattle. It won’t take up to much of your time unless there’s a line outside which I heard does happen. The first time we went, it was closed (remember, it’s closed on weekends) but the second time, we got there around 7 a.m. on a Monday right before our flight. We spent about 5 minutes shopping and 10-15 eating our sandwiches and enjoying the atmosphere. If you have any more questions, I will try my best to answer them in the comments below.
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