It’s being described as the future of grocery shopping – a store that allows you to pick stuff up off the shelf and walk straight out. No checkout, no queues.
There was just one fly in the ointment when Amazon Go opened its doors on Monday: such was the hype and excitement about the new shop, customers actually had to queue to get in.
I’m in Seattle and there is currently a line to shop at the grocery store whose entire premise is that you won’t have to wait in line. pic.twitter.com/fWr80A0ZPV
— Ryan Petersen (@typesfast) January 22, 2018
The shop in Seattle had been open for employees of Amazon for some time as the company tested out the combination of “computer vision, sensor fusion and deep learning” which powers the cashier-free experience.
But by the time the store opened to the public on Monday considerable queues had built up just to get inside.
— Suzanne Phan (@SuzannePhan) January 22, 2018
It was an irony that was not lost on those who were watching from afar.
The "Just walk in, take what you want and leave" promise from Amazon Go apparently left out the "wait in line" part https://t.co/GUp0sDGpxf
— Cromwell Schubarth (@SVBizCrom) January 22, 2018
I love that Amazon’s new Go store had a massive line coming out of it when it’s entire promise is no lines. Obviously this won’t happen at scale, but it’s still some good irony
— Woodrow Apfel (@woodrow_apfel) January 23, 2018
Of course, when the hype dies down the situation is unlikely to be repeated and shoppers will be able to experience the queueless experience Amazon envisaged.
Amazon Go has a companion app that customers scan at the entrance in order to get in, and then uses a wide range of sensors, cameras and machine learning to detect when items are picked up from shelves.
It is said to be able to spot when items are put back on shelves by indecisive customers, but some human staff are also on hand to ensure everything runs smoothly, as well as carrying out necessary tasks such as confirming age when a customer wants to buy alcohol.
The public opening came about a year later than Amazon initially predicted – perhaps an indication on how much work has gone into perfecting the technology in the store.