Amazon's Experimental Grab-N-Go Grocery Opens in Seattle

No checkout, no lines, no idea how the heck this thing works.

By Ethan L. Johns
January 22, 2018

Image: Mike Kane/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Goodbye to grocery lines. Or not?

Seattle shoppers queued up on Monday morning, waiting to be some of the first to experience Amazon Go, the e-commerce giant’s first automated grab-and-go convenience store, when it opened at 7 a.m.

The concept was introduced to the public at the end of 2016, promising “No Lines. No Checkout. (No, Seriously.),” though Amazon employees were initially the only ones allowed to test the technology. An app is required to scan into the store, which uses cameras, sensors and machine learning to identify shoppers, recognize what they take and put back on shelves, and charge them once they walk out the door.

The technology apparently works as intended. According to Bloomberg, during the test period, three creative Amazon employees dressed up in Pikachu costumes and tried to fool the store’s sensors. They did not succeed.

Of course, not everything can be done by a bunch of sensors on ceilings and shelves; employees work in the store to restock shelves, assist customers and prepare sandwiches and other pre-prepared meals. The beer shelves will be protected by an employee, who checks ID before customers are permitted to remove booze from the shelves.

For now, Seattle’s the place for this new sort of grab-and-go shopping. Amazon has not yet announced plans to create other Amazon Go stores. It has also denied that the Amazon Go technology would be applied to the larger aisles of Whole Foods stores.

Early-bird shoppers took to Twitter to share their experiences:

“I think I just shoplifted??” tweeted CNBC technology reporter Deirdre Bosa. “#AmazonGo didn’t charge me for my Siggi’s yogurt.”

Others shared insight into the technology in place. German technology journalist Britta Weddeling shared a photo of her salad, which is labeled with a camera-friendly arrangement of black dots.

Remember the days when you used paper to pay for things? How quaint! As even the plastic card goes the way of the cowry shell, Amazon is helping us imagine a world without the actual act of payment. In order to be a part of it, though, you’re going to need a smartphone and an open line of credit.

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About Ethan L. Johns

Ethan is the Food News Writer at Genius Kitchen. An expert on the Parisian bistrot, he likes bitters and salted butters, and is no fan of dessert unless it's made with fruit. His hobbies include reading up on the history of borscht and attempting to roll perfect couscous by hand. Twits & Instagram @EthanLJohns