Published: Tue, January 23, 2018
Economy | By Melissa Porter

Amazon Go companion app launches ahead of physical store opening

Amazon Go companion app launches ahead of physical store opening

The new Amazon Go store opened on Monday in downtown Seattle, potentially beginning a transformation of the retail landscape as we know it. In 2015 the firm opened its first physical bookshop, also in Seattle. It will take seconds if that is all you have.

Amazon Go says it offers ready-to-eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack options made by chefs and local kitchens and bakeries.

Amazon's experimental store was actually first built around a year ago, but since then Amazon has been trialling the store in a "beta" phase specifically just for Amazon's staff that work in its headquarters nearby. The store relies on sensors and cameras to detect what items shoppers have taken from the shelves, as well as what they have put back, in real-time. When you arrive, use the app to enter the store, then feel free to put your phone away - you don't need it to shop.

The online mega-retailer's first-ever grocery store is fully automated, meaning it doesn't employ cashiers, negating checkout stations, registers and long line wait times. It first opened the convenience store in December 2016.

On my visit to the store last week, the technology charged me correctly after I entered, grabbed a sparkling beverage, and exited - all in less than one minute. All shoppers need to do is download the Amazon Go application from the App Store or Play Store (depending on their device) and sign into their Amazon account before they depart, then scan the QR code at the storefront when they arrive.

For those in the dark, Amazon Go is the e-commerce giant's attempt to revolutionize the way we shop - in person - by effectively eliminating queues and checkouts. All the purchases are billed on cards while customers leave the supermarket.

Amazon is reportedly considering the convenience store model the most, while the other store formats include a smaller drive-thru retail shop and a massive, Ikea-style discount chain that involves up to 40,000-square-foot stores. It is unclear if the company plans to open more high-tech stores in the future.

Amazon Go! is a supermarket with a difference.

"We have spent a lot of time figuring out how to make our algorithms and our sensors reliable, highly available, and very efficient so that you get things right and we're very accurate", Dilip Kumar, Amazon Go's vice president of technology, told Fast Company.

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