Amazon on Monday announced details of an ambitious new brick-and-mortar convenience store, to be known as Amazon Go, which it said would offer consumers grocery essentials, convenience items and prepared foods-to-go without requiring them to check out.
The 1,800-square-foot store, located in Seattle, is currently open to Amazon employees using the store in a beta test. It will open to the public early in 2017, the Seattle-based retailer said.
Amazon said the store would utilize proprietary technology allowing shoppers to take items from shelves and simply walk out with them to be billed later — a potentially big step toward meeting shopper demand for convenience while relieving Amazon the burden of costly “last-mile” fulfillment as it pursues a greater impact on food retailing.
“Our Just Walk Out technology automatically detects when products are taken from or returned to the shelves and keeps track of them in a virtual cart,” the company said in a release. “When you’re done shopping, you can just leave the store. Shortly after, we’ll charge your Amazon account and send you a receipt.”
Amazon Go — reportedly known inside the company as “Project X” — has been the topic of considerable speculation in recent months. Recent reports said the company was eyeing the potential to add as many as 2,000 such stores in the coming decade following a test period in major markets before 2018.
In a release, Amazon compared the technology allowing it to remove checkouts to that in a self-driving car — “computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning.” The news comes days after reports that rival Walmart had opened two 4,000-square-foot Pickup with Fuel stores also built around more convenient shopping for essentials.
“Four years ago we asked ourselves: what if we could create a shopping experience with no lines and no checkout? Could we push the boundaries of computer vision and machine learning to create a store where customers could simply take what they want and go? Our answer to those questions is Amazon Go and Just Walk Out Shopping,” Amazon said.
Amazon Go will offer ready-to-eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack options made fresh by our on-site chefs and local kitchens and bakeries. Grocery essentials include staples like bread and milk; artisan cheeses and locally made chocolates. The store will also feature meal kits with ingredients to make a prepare a meal at home in 30 minutes, and “special finds we’re excited to introduce to customers.”