Amazon has opened a special brick and mortar grocery store for people in a rush as well as introverts who don’t like interacting with others. The first artificial intelligence-powered Amazon Go store launched in Seattle, Wash., on Monday over a year after the company announced its plans for the high-tech shopping spot.
The store is located at Amazon’s company headquarters and works by having customers scan the Amazon Go app on their smartphones when they walk into the store. Shoppers then pick up whatever they want and leave.
The retail giant is able to determine what people purchase through a combination of computer vision, machine learning algorithms, and sensors, reports CBS News. The shoppers are charged to their Amazon accounts. People can also put items back on the shelf and aren’t charged. There’s no need for cash registers or checkout lines because customers are billed on the credit cards they have on file.
There are human employees on hand as well. They are responsible for making food, stocking shelves, and aiding customers if necessary. Amazon Go offers snacks, breakfast, lunch, dinner and several grocery items.
Last year, the online retailer bought organic grocer Whole Foods, expanding its presence in the physical environment. It also has several Amazon Bookstores. It’s unclear whether Amazon plans on launching additional “Go” stores, but it has no plans to use the automated technology at Whole Foods stores at this time.
The “Go” store was scheduled to open in 2017, but the opening was delayed while Amazon employees tested it in beta mode.
One concern is that this type of technology could eliminate jobs. As of May 2016, U.S. grocery stores employed almost 900,000 cashiers, according to the Department of Labor.
Amazon has eagerly experimented with automation by incorporating technology such as delivery drones and warehouse robots. However, the company has also been hiring thousands of employees each year, “growing headcount by 40 percent year over year,” according to CNBC.
After purchasing Whole Foods in 2017, Amazon earned the title of the second biggest private employer in the United States behind Walmart. While it is experiencing tremendous growth and hiring a lot of people, it’s also caused a lot of losses within the retail industry.