Amazon, one of the largest e-commerce retail stores and cloud company opened doors to its new queue free concept retail store on 23rd January, 2018 in Seattle, USA called Amazon Go.
The largest premise of Amazon Go was that customers would avoid the normal long lines of people when checking out of most shops to pay and clear what they have bought.
The concept bases on several cameras, algorithms and weight sensors which determine what the shopper has added to their trolley and adds these items to a virtual cart in your account on the Amazon Go app.
Customers pay electronically and automatically through their linked account when they leave the store using technology Amazon is calling “Just Walk Out”.
To enter the store, you have to scan the Amazon Go app on your phone at a turnstile at the 1,800 sq. ft facility.
What if you picked an item by mistake or changed your mind, Amazon in their video says you just have to simply return it before check out and it will automatically be deleted from your virtual cart so you won’t have to pay for it.
The launch was already battered on social media by passers-by who took photos of the long queues outside the store just to get in to experience the “queue-free” shopping experience, the irony.
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Nevertheless, Amazon Go is a massive hit and consumers can purchase ready-to-eat breakfasts, lunches, dinner, snacks, groceries, milk, bread and so many more items including those from Whole Foods which Amazon acquired in 2017.
Amazon Go was first tested with Amazon employees before being opened up to the public and several of the initial challenges faced such as problems with separating identities of individuals of the same height or products placed in wrong aisles where been fixed.
Amazon still faces a limited support from many people in Seattle who pride themselves in the $15 (54,414 ugx) minimum wage and the fear that customer service is dying away especially for the elderly who need guidance and take pleasure in the occasional chit chat and persuasion.
Contrary to expectation that there would be no employees because there are no check out cashiers, there are actually a lot of Amazon employees who prepare the food, stack the shelves and assist customers as they go about their shopping.
This might be a step towards the future of shopping, self-paced and personal. Uganda and Africa are still behind in catching up with the retail technology game since there is still a struggle with going cashless and using alternative forms of payment. This has even made it difficult to implement certain loyalty rewards and implement wireless payment technologies like NFC.
Lawk is a mozillian, writes for Spur, Newslibre and consults part time for Every1Mobile and Innovware.
He loves open source, the open web, writing, reading and developing literacy tools that can teach the youth around the world especially in East Africa.