Will Amazon Go Put Grocery Stores Out of Business?

Amazon has once again challenged what we think we know about shopping by unveiling a physical grocery store in its hometown of Seattle. Called Amazon Go, this new store purports to be in-person shopping’s frictionless future. When you enter you scan your phone, wander the aisles, pocket whatever you need, and leave. The store’s sensors are intelligent enough to know what you took and how much to charge you. It’s fittingly called “just walk out technology” — if Amazon’s system flies true, then the new normal grocery run will look a lot like plain-sight shoplifting.

Though the company is most famous for its gigantic online store, this is not Amazon’s first rodeo in physical retail space. It already operates bookstores out of California, Oregon, and Washington, and is due to expand this component of its business.

The company is keeping many details of Go close to the chest, not revealing much about the technology that goes into making the store work. All we know is that it depends on computer vision and artificial intelligence. Basically, intelligent security cameras track people and record what they pick up from store shelves. When a person leaves the store, their Amazon account is charged for whatever they took.

Right now the store is open only to Amazon employees and is slated to open to the public in early 2017. Amazon did not immediately return a request for comment on where else the new retail technology will appear in the future.