Amazon Go - the future of retail?


Wow. Only one grocery store I use has no self-checkout, and I hate going there (it might be that they only have 1 line open 90% of the time, but still). Oh, I guess Wegmans doesn’t have self-checkout either, but they cost too much!


What stops some random stranger from walking in off the street and walking out with something? I assume there will be alarm.

I’m wondering because grocery stores are one thing. Someone might lift a ham or caviar or just a couple of sandwiches and run out, but if these clerkless stores start to include big box stores that have high ticket items, how do you control theft?


You have to sign in with an Amazon account to enter the store, and the cameras track you and what you take from that point.


And you are charged when you exit the store.


Wow that’s… that’s the big story here,imo.

In order to prevent shoplifting, a new retail world will emerge where you have to be verified just to enter the store.


Well, it’s not in order to prevent shoplifting. It’s a side effect of avoiding paying for human staff.


Sure, i mean, it just occurred to me right now.

For the last few decades there have those ´club´ stores - Sam’s Club is the most famous - that forced shoppers to purchase a relatively inexpensive membership in order to make use of the store. Ostensibly you’re not even supposed to have access to the store without flashing your Membership Card ™ but most of the time this rule lay relatively unenforced and to some extent unenforcible.

But imagine in our Black Mirror future 20 years from now where you can’t even enter a Starbucks because you’re not registered member with a linked credit card account, and the magnetically sealed doors remain closed until you are. Although that’s probably not the best example as there’s hardly any thing worth stealing or opportunity to steal in a typical Starbucks, but you could quickly see Wall Street latching onto a way to lock customers into and out of their stores, reducing theft significantly while also cutting down on employees and benefits, and thereby dividing society into those that “made it” and are verified and allowed into the “good stores” and the unwashed masses forced to shop at ChinaMart for poor quality, overpriced per value goods.

If Amazon stores have reduced or eliminated shrinkage/theft over the next few years the possibility of big box retail stores, with lots of goods and few employees, looking very hard at the Seal Out the Poors technology as the future.


Big box retail stores probably aren’t going to exist in meaningful numbers in 20 years, but sure. I think the driver is going to be cutting down on employees, rather than (customer) theft, though.


That’s what the gun turrets are for.


When it was employee-only, you had to basically badge in. I imagine it’s the same thing now; you “check-in” using your phone. The sensors have facial recognition, and if anyone who enters is “unauthorized” I imagine that’s when security/the police get summoned. But I’m sure those cute, Portal-like gun turrets are also in development.


So you think the stores will be gated from the general public, ala Sam’s or Costco? I guess that makes sense. Still doesn’t protect them from identify theft and a quick grab-and-run. I guess expensive stuff may need to be fetched from the backrooms by an actual human just like it is now in a lot of stores where you grab a card to indicate what you want to buy.

So when AI and automation becomes so much better, where are the jobs for the regular humans who aren’t cut out for the more intellectual jobs? Just humans being paid to clean up after each other? Prepare the foods and clean the lavatories? Maybe they just perfect fully immersive VR and we all just jump into a game and live out our lives there as heroes?


The super-cynical view of the future is guaranteed minimum income being essentially a support for a minimum level of consumption by the great unwashed masses so that all this creative content and electronic faff have a market to sell to. If the great unwashed masses also hammer away like monkeys on typewriters and occasionally out comes a new trance DJ or self-taught musical prodigy, bully for them! They’ll also feel much better about themselves communing with one another on Youtube or its successors.

The more serious view is going to be the problem when economies start hitting those Mathusian constraints unless we invent a significantly more efficient source of energy than hydrocarbons and find new sources of raw resources worldwide. Automation requires humies the ability to ‘grow’ out of the loss of jobs, presumably by creating new jobs that align toward the creative side. If growth becomes unsustainable at the same time automation is marching forward… that’s the dystopian scenario.

But, yea, we’ll see the cost/benefit of Amazon Go gating people, and how well it gates. It’s an outlandish possibility that major retail chains all gate customers unless they’re verified and associated with a credit card… but since it’s actually happening now, no longer a completely implausible one.


Amazon Go literally won’t let you in without checking in with your Amazon account, and anything you take off the shelf is automatically added to your cart and charged when you exit the store. Identity theft is certainly a risk but grab and run, not so much.


So, another idea is that we figure out how to expand beyond planet earth and that’s where the real growth is. Physical constraints may make this impossible (FTL travel, etc.), but we don’t know yet if we can get around those restraints.

This isn’t really a bad future. How different is it from what we have now or have had for most of existence? People are born into the world, work to survive, and die. Nearly all of us are forgotten within a few generations as if we had never lived.

You have to put a hard stop on population growth. That will be painful, but it’s not a horrible thing if handled well. You probably need something like a one-world government to do this. And a just government if you want it to be fair.


How do they handle parents with little kids? The little kids don’t have accounts of their own. But no parent is going to leave their kid outside. And little kids are notorious about grabbing anything they can or want.


If you put stuff back on the shelf it’s removed again. If the kid takes something without you noticing to make them put it back, well. Sucks to be you.


Do you have to put it back exactly where you got it? Because if decades of supermarket shopping has taught me anything, it’s that people will dump what they don’t want on the nearest available shelf.


I would like Costco to follow suit. They don’t even bag anything there. The entire purpose of the two lines to get out of the store is for you to pay and to make sure you didn’t steal. Just imagine how much faster the experience would be if you could just grab your stuff and go. Also… Costco employees are never really around to help so much as stock so… again, it wouldn’t be a huge loss for them there either.


Don’t know the answer, but I specifically saw this mentioned in an article as one of the kinks that showed up during testing that delayed the full launch, so I presume they came up with something.


Ironically, Costco has some of the best pay and benefits in the industry. It also translates into some of the lowest shrinkage, too. It turns out if you treat your employees well, they reciprocate.