Amazon is set to open its first checkout-free grocery store in Seattle today, in a move that cements its evolution into a “clicks and bricks” retailer.
The 1800sq ft shop – known as Amazon Go and located in the same building as the retail giant’s global headquarters – uses computer vision, machine-learning algorithms, cameras and sensors to track what shoppers take from the shelves, and automatically bills them as they exit the store.
Customers must first download an Amazon Go app and scan it as they pass through a gated turnstile to enter the shop.
The cameras and sensors in-store also removes items from customers’ virtual baskets if they return an item back on the shelf while they are shopping.
Once customers exit the store through the gates, the credit card associated with their Amazon account is then billed the total amount of their virtual cart.
While the store is checkout-free, it still has employees who stock the shelves, help customers or make food.
The store opening comes almost a year since Amazon first announced the concept about a month since it first opened to Amazon employees as part of a trial phase.
The Amazon Go store also adds to the online retailer’s growing physical store presence and its expansion into groceries after its £10.7 billion takeover of Whole Foods and its 470 stores worldwide last year.
Amazon has not confirmed if or when it would expand its Amazon Go concept, but it did say it had no plans to add store’s technology to the Whole Foods estate.
The news comes as one of Amazon’s rivals in China, JD.com, announced in December that it planned to open not just one – but hundreds of unmanned convenience stores.
While the specific technology that the online retailer plans to use is not yet clear, JD.com said it has tested it at its headquarters and was ready to roll out the concept across China with the help of real estate developer China Overseas Land & Investment.
JD.com’s bigger rival, Alibaba, also has its own tech-centric grocery stores and unmanned convenience store concept.