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Amazon Go cashierless convenience store opens

The Seattle Times
January 22. 2018 8:13PM
A shopper scans a smartphone app associated with his Amazon account and credit card information to enter the Amazon Go store in Seattle last Thursday. (REUTERS/Jeffrey Dastin)

SEATTLE — Amazon Go is a go for the masses.

The retailer’s cashierless convenience store opened its doors to the public Monday, a debut that follows a nearly 14-month trial run open only to the Seattle company’s employees.

The store requires customers to scan their smartphone on the way in, tracks them with cameras and other sensors as they browse, and, when they take an item off the shelf, adds it to a virtual cart. Groceries are charged to the customer’s Amazon account when they leave with their goods.

At 7 a.m. Monday, the store opened to anyone with the Amazon Go smartphone app and a linked Amazon account.

Amazon Go is among the boldest efforts by the online retailer to reshape brick-and-mortar shopping. For a pocket-size, 1,800-square-foot convenience store that hasn’t technically opened to the public, the concept has had an outsized influence on the retail industry since its surprise unveiling in December 2016.

The concept, which Amazon has termed “Just Walk Out” shopping, sparked speculation that Amazon could use its high-tech concept as a beachhead to expand into convenience stores or perhaps other categories of physical retail.

It was also criticized by grocery-store workers’ unions, which feared an effort to automate the work done by cashiers, the second-most-common job in the U.S.

Amazon has said the goal isn’t to make retail employees redundant, but to offer convenience you can’t get from a sometimes-crowded deli or corner store.

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