Seeing the Future: Amazon Go

On Friday, while walking up California Street in San Francisco enjoying a morning of street photography, my friend Doug and I happened across the new Amazon Go store at 300 California Street. Neither of us had been in a Go Store before so we went in to check it out.

Turns out I had months ago downloaded the Amazon Go app to my iPhone – so I was enabled for the Store. I needed to login to the app to complete my setup. Once logged in, the app displays a diamond-shaped bar code which is scanned by the gate turnstiles to let you into the store – a process just like using a boarding pass to get on the airplane. 

I had a guest with me – so the helpful Amazon person by the door explained how I could take my guest with me into the store: let him walk in first, scan using my code, followed by me and a second scan of my code.

Once inside, we were surprised by the range of items available in a space that seemed a bit larger than most 7-Eleven convenience stores but smaller than the usual supermarket (Whole Foods?) store. There were lots of prepared food items – but many other things as well. Very nice assortment!

While in the store, I noticed one guy come in who must be a local regular – as he breezed through the turnstile, went to pickup his item (lunch) and then walked out.

One of the sections in the store has Amazon Go “merchandise” where I found a dark chocolate bar that would be my sole item purchased on this initial visit. I picked up the bar, turned around, browsed another aisle, and then headed for and walked through the exit gate. That was it – I was done.

My friend was curious about the technology being used – wondering if RFID on the items was involved. He asked and was told that basically a combination of overhead cameras along with weight sensitive shelves were used to identify the items we picked up to purchase.

All in all a very cool shopping experience! Having had to tolerate checkout lines many times at a 7-Eleven near my former office, I can see how this new future would quickly win me over!

Note that this Go Store at 300 California Street is open Mon–Fri, 7AM–9PM. Closed Sat–Sun. Amazon says it stocks: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snacks, Grocery Essentials

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