Amazon Go: lines form in Seattle to try checkout-free shopping (USA TODAY)

Amazon Go: lines form in Seattle to try checkout-free shopping

Elizabeth Weise & Amity Addrisi, USA TODAY and KING 5
Published 12:27 p.m. ET Jan. 22, 2018


Amazon’s new grocery store allows its members to literally grab and go.

SEATTLE — Amazon’s checkout line-free convenience store Amazon Go opened Monday morning in Seattle to crowds of press and the curious.

At least 100 would-be shoppers gathered in 41-degree weather to be the first to shop in the store.

Amazon employees walked down the line of those waiting to hand out bright orange Amazon Go shopping bags. As shoppers got to the door of the store, an employee checked to make sure they had the Amazon Go app correctly downloaded and the QR code up on their screen.

Shoppers scan the app on the electronic readers at the entrance turnstiles, then walk in and grab whatever they want. They can stick their purchases in their pockets, a bag or a pack — Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology knows what they’ve taken, and what they’ve put back.

Shopper and tech worker Yuval Fleming was so eager to try it out that he happily stood in line in the dark Seattle morning, where sunrise didn’t come until 47 minutes after the store opened its doors to the public for the first time at 7:00 am.

"This is the future of grocery shopping. It’s exciting to see the technology in action," he said.

When his turn to shop came, Fleming walked in, grabbed a six pack of Elysian beer, a local Seattle brand, and a mug emblazoned with the tag line Just Walk Out shopping. 

When he was done, he simply walked out the exit turnstile and his account was charged.

His total trip time, as tracked by his app? 51 seconds.

The Amazon Go convenience store and its proprietary technology, made up of hundreds of cameras and sensors, require that shoppers have an Amazon account and download a special Amazon Go app.

The space is the size of a regular convenience store, though with a high-end assortment of foods. They include chilled beverages, sweets, snacks, ready-made salads and sandwiches, frozen foods and a wall of meal kits for dinners.

The foods sits on shelves full of hidden sensors that note when an item’s been removed or when it’s been put back. Hundreds of cameras, painted matte black to blend in with the ceiling, capture movement.

Amazon has been working on the technology that powers the Amazon Go store for about five years and opened the store to staff for beta testing in 2016. It was supposed to open to the public in 2017 but getting the bugs worked out proved trickier than expected.  

Most visitors Monday morning were buying snacks and items simply for the novelty of getting to try out the technology. By 8:00 am stockers were already replenishing the Amazon Just Walk Out mugs and bags, which had been cleared out by the eager crowd. 

Elizabeth Weise is a technology reporter for USA TODAY in San Francisco. Amity Addrisi is a reporter for King 5-TV in Seattle. 

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January 22, 2018 at 01:28PM

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