Amazon Go Not Yet Ready for Prime Time

By Leora Katzman

Four years ago, Amazon asked, ‘what if we could create a shopping experience with no lines and no checkout?’ Shortly after, Amazon revealed exciting plans to open a computerized brick-and-mortar retail store in downtown Seattle as early as 2017. 

This grocery store will allow customers to select grocery items and prepared meals from shelves and walk out without having to wait in a checkout line. This ‘Just Walk Out Technology’ automatically detects when products are taken from or returned to shelves and keeps track of them in a virtual cart, allowing customers to simply leave the store without encountering cashiers or registers. The company has said that the technology it uses is similar to that of an autonomous car. After launching in beta mode to employees in December 2016, Amazon Go was due to open to the public by the end of March 2017. However last week, Amazon disclosed that they are experiencing some glitches in the technology and it is now unclear when the store will open to the public. The company has run into problems when tracking more than 20 people in the store at one time and has had difficulty keeping tabs on items that have been moved from their specific spot on the shelf. The Amazon Go project is part of a deeper effort to re-evaluate the future of brick-and-mortar retail. Most recently, Amazon has been exploring chains of convenience, book, and grocery stores to challenge its rivals on all fronts. Amazon has already opened five bookstores and 30 mall pop-up stores.

While the company is still working out kinks with the Amazon Go store, the company is enthusiastic about the future of cashier-less convenience stores and already envisions expansion across multiple sites.