Have you ever been in a grocery store waiting in line to check out behind a bunch of screaming kids and wondered if there could be an easier way to leave without having a meltdown? Well your dreams may become a reality soon. Amazon just recently announced that they hope to open 2,000 brick and mortar grocery stores called Amazon Go without cashiers – where you can walk in, shop and leave without standing in line to pay. An app on your phone recognizes you and allows you to enter the store, you shop and Amazon charges you for only what you leave with. Seems simple enough.
The company says that it had started the project four years ago with the aim of improving the shopping experience. Over a decade ago self check-out machines promised to do the same and alleviate the pain of the grocery run. If you, like me, have spent a frustrating amount of time keying in codes and waiting for age validation while the standard checkout line mysteriously starts to move faster, you’ve probably realized we were sold a false hope.
So, with the potential of being better, faster and more reliable, what are the potential downsides to this new innovation? I can see privacy being a big concern with Amazon being able to collect so much free data on your spending habits, then again if you purchase anything using a credit card and buy anything off the web your information is already being shared with 3rd parties. Also, where will all the cashiers go? I suppose the stores will still need shelf stockers and other humans to sort out the inevitable glitches in the system before the robots completely take over but certainly a whole sector of employment is at risk from this technology.
Psychologically speaking there may be a steep learning curve too. Up to now, most of us are instinctively aware of the consequences of leaving a store without physically paying. It will be interesting to see how long it takes for us to become comfortable with basically the act of shop lifting, albeit only in our minds.
Depending on your view point this is either the best news since sliced bread or further evidence of the downfall of modern society. Whatever your opinion, it seems like this next step in automation could be a giant game changer in the retail sector that could most likely revolutionize the way we shop.
Do you agree? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.
–Dan Rosen, Art Director