Information Systems Integration – Tony Messina

How Amazon runs a grocery store with no lines, cashiers, or registers.

Amazon Go which officially opened for business in Seattle in late January, is Amazon’s testing ground for a physical store. The Amazon Go store is similar to any other convenience store we know for example Wawa, but it has one key difference – it has no checkouts or human cashiers. So instead of waiting in line to pay, customers can just download the Amazon Go app and their Amazon account is automatically billed based on the items they’re carrying when they leave the store. So, people ask how is this possible? This is the technology making it possible – Amazon has created a system that’s runs a high surveillance in the store with hundreds of cameras placed in aisles and shelves. But they don’t use facial recognition technology, they use a more sophisticated technology called computer vision. Computer vision allows machines to basically see what is in front of them and determine what an object is and detects when an item has been taken from a shelf by a customer and who it was taken by. And it doesn’t stop there, the system is also able to remove an item from a customer’s virtual basket if it is put back on the shelves. With this system, Amazon is able to bill the right items to the right people when they walk out with their network of cameras as they’re able to track people in the store at all times.

The Amazon Go store was rumored for years, and when it first opened it was made available for the Amazon HQ employees. But now that it’s gone public, what future plans do Amazon have with it? And with their recent accusation of Whole Foods in the past year, will they implement this system to those stores as well? What could this mean for the future of human workers?


2 Responses to How Amazon runs a grocery store with no lines, cashiers, or registers.

  • Hi Jose, this is a really interesting business operation that Amazon is using. As you say, computer vision is single-handedly filling the work of multiple cashiers. It may even fill the role of checking shelf inventory throughout the store. This is both innovative and scary (thinking about the future of American jobs). I’m wondering if the store has the functionality to determine whether or not a walk-in customer has an Amazon account. This may be necessary because, based on your description, all charges go to an Amazon account. What happens if a rogue person enters the store, takes different items, and leaves without computer vision finding an Amazon account to charge their products to? That’s just my takeaway. This is still a really cool and innovative tech wave that will be hitting more stores in the future.

  • I love this idea! It’s innovative and just what is needed. Sometimes I am in a rush when going into a convenience store and it just seems like the cashier and person in front of me are taking too long, holding a long conversation with one another. I was very skeptical while reading this post because I was wondering how they would catch someone who is stealing but of course Amazon thought of that too. In order to enter the store, you must already have the app downloaded and scan it. So there is really no stealing from the store. The hundreds of cameras around the store may scare people just a little if they do not understand the store uses computer vision for to know when items have been removed and/or put back on the shelf. You are constantly being watched in the store for the purpose of your shopping experience. As for jobs, it just eliminates the cashier but there still needs to be a couple of people around to answer customer questions and also restock the shelves. It doesn’t eliminate workers altogether but it does minimize the people that will be needed. Overall, I love this business operation and cannot wait for it to expand.

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