Whole Foods

Amazon introduces ‘no checkouts’ supermarket

MNA Business Desk: In a move that could revolutionize the way we buy groceries, Amazon opens its first supermarket without checkouts — human or self-service — to shoppers on Monday.

Amazon Go, in Seattle in the US, has been tested by staff for the past year, reported news agency. It uses an array of ceiling-mounted cameras to identify each customer and track what items they select, eliminating the need for billing.

Purchases are billed to customers’ credit cards when they leave the store. Before entering, shoppers must scan the Amazon Go smartphone app. Sensors on the shelves add items to the bill as customers pick them up – and deletes any they put back.

The store opened to employees of the online retail giant in December 2016 and had been expected to allow the public in more quickly.

But there were some teething problems with correctly identifying shoppers of similar body types – and children moving items to the wrong places on shelves, according to an Amazon insider.

Gianna Puerini, head of Amazon Go, said the store had operated well during the test phase: “This technology didn’t exist — it was really advancing the state of the art of computer vision and machine learning.”

Amazon has not said if it will be opening more Go stores, which are separate from the Whole Foods chain that it bought last year for $13.7 billion.

As yet the company has no plans to introduce the technology to the hundreds of Whole Foods stores. However, retailers know that the faster customers can make their purchases, the more likely they are to return.

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